Another Great British Sewing Bee Apron

So it was my sister’s birthday at the beginning of this week (and mine, we’re twins!) and after seeing the apron I made for my friend, she requested one of her own. She said she likes rainbow colours so I drew a few versions I could made from things already in my stash and decided a full-on rainbow might be a bit too much (though in retrospect I slightly wish I’d done it), so I just went for the warm end of the colours as they are the ones she likes and wears most.

There isn’t much to say about the construction -it’s super simple, and I’d already made it. The only thing I will say is don’t melt the fabric of the lining as you give it a final iron before slip stitching the lining to the ‘skirt’ part. D’oh!

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I had my iron on the cotton setting and didn’t even think of checking it. It turns out this orange polycotton must be a lot more poly than it is cotton! It was super annoying to make such a stupid mistake, but it was easily fixed with a new lining piece.

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And here’s the whole thing in all its glory:

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Sorry if this isn’t that interesting, since I’ve already made it and its only an apron, but there will me lots more sewing posts coming as I’ve just had a week off work and although I didn’t get as much sewing as I hoped, I have many plans. I’ve bought 3 new patterns – Christine Haynes’s Emery Dress (for the sewalong), Megan Nielsen’s Banksia Top (of which I’ve already made one and am about to cut out 2 more!) and By Hand London’s Victoria Blazer, which I’ve been umming and ahing about for ages, then I saw the coat version Victoria posted on their blog the other day and decided to spend my birthday money on it. I have most of my stash allocated to a pattern, so hopefully there will be many things sewn in the coming weeks. Then I need to move onto bottoms I think….

Elisalex Number 1

So, I’ve conversely posted about the second By Hand London Elisalex Dress I made first because the first one was always meant as a wearable muslin, so I did all the steps, including the lining and fitting a zip to check the fit and also to finish both dresses, to have…..2 dresses! I finally finished the first one the other night, when I sewed the lining down on the inside. I (obvs) made all the same changes to this one as I made in the second dress. The only difference is that the fabric for this dress was super cheap, very synthetic stuff from one of the cheapo shops in Walthamstow so I underlined the skirt as well as the bodice, because it was pretty much see-through. I don’t know what this stuff is, but it melted when I put the iron on it, on not a very high heat! I bought it thinking I would make a floaty top, like Tilly and the Buttons’s Mathilde Blouse or something, but even by the time I got home I had fallen out of love with it. Having said that, I do actually quite like it as a dress (even if I am falling back into my old ways of wearing mainly blue!).

But enough rambling, here are some photos:

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It looks really long in this photo (it must be the angle), but it actually hits me on the knee, like the other one.

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Again, not perfect from the back (plus you can see the top of the zip sticking out because I took the photos before it was totally finished). I sewed in this zip about 5 times and actually put more ease back into it as it was so tight, in order to get it looking nice at the back, that I couldn’t take a deep breath!

Here’s a close up of the fabric – it’s got some grey in it, so I used this grey zip from my stash. Handy!

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Here’s the inside – I used some white cotton I had lying around, which my mum added to the last time I visited. I love how neat a lined garment looks from the inside! So pleasing, even if no-one really gets to see it when you’re wearing it!

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Elisalex Number 2

I’m posting the second Elisalex dress I made first, as the first one I made is still not finished – I just have to sew the lining in on the inside. I wore this version on Saturday to a friend’s wedding, having finished it an hour before I had to leave the house. Some might say I left it until the last minute, I would say it was finished in the perfect amount of time!

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It’s made from a heavy, probably upholstery weight green and white stripey cotton from Rolls and Rems in Holloway. You can’t see the stripes from a distance, but it’s really pretty. I bought 3 metres but have loads left – any ideas what I can make from really thick fabric? I’m thinking maybe a pleated skirt of some kind?

Here’s a close up:

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I had to make a few changes to the pattern, but luckily not too much – I’m not sure I have the skill level for a bust adjustment just yet!

I cut out a size 8, grading to a size 10 at the waist, on the side seams only (I didn’t want to mess with the princess seams) as those were the closest measurements to mine. I cut out a size 10 on the bottom as I figured it would be easier to ease a bit out of the skirt than the bodice. As it turns out, the 2 pieces fitted together rather nicely. I’m quite pleased with how I got the seams and pleats lined up:

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When I cut out the pattern I realised that it was way too long for my 5’2” frame, so I cut off 20cm from the skirt length before I cut out my fabric (which might be partly why I needed much less fabric than suggested). I then sewed a 3cm hem to get the length to just above my knees.

I didn’t have a 22” zip, as the pattern suggested – I think the zip is meant to go all the way down the back? So I used a 19” zip instead, from my stash. Because it was from my stash, it’s yellow – it was the best one I could find and I didn’t have the time to go and buy another, more matching one. I managed to hide it so you can’t see it when the dress is on – I’m getting much better at zips than when I made my first dress!

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Part of the reason I’m getting better at zips is because I must have sewed the 2 zips for my 2 Elisalex’s about 10 times between them. This wasn’t just me being rubbish, but me trying to get the back to fit better. This was the main change I had to make – I sewed the zip(s) in with a 2.5cm seam allowance, going up to 5cm at the neck, for the top 2 inches or so. When I put the zip in as instructed, the back gaped loads and taking fabric out of the zip seam allowance seemed like the best way to get it to fit – there might be better ways, but I had made pretty much the whole dress at this point and was too lazy to unpick it and work out a better way to fit it. You can see from this picture that I have a narrow back – I look much thinner from the back than the front! It’s still not perfect, but I tried it with even less ease and I couldn’t really breathe, so I compromised for comfort!

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I used a bit of old gingham I had lying around for the lining. This is the first time I’ve lined anything and I really like it – the instructions are really clear and the pattern comes together nicely, so it was a good introduction to linings. It was also quite necessary to have something a bit softer next to my skin!

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I’m quite pleased with how neat it all looks from the inside – this is by far the neatest of any of the insides of anything I’ve made so far. I even did french seams on the side seams of the skirt, so it all looks lovely!

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The only other change I made (I just remembered) was I took 12cm off the short sleeve length as otherwise they would have come down to my elbows. I made the sleeved version so that I can wear it with cardigans in the winter – and it won’t look as odd as wearing a sleeveless dress in winter.

I was worried the dress would feel restrictive and not very comfortable, but aside from getting a bit warm with all the dancing at the wedding, I forgot what I was wearing, so that’s got to mean it was comfy! I might give the bodice a go with a circle skirt like lots of other people have done – this pattern is definitely a winner!

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