Jungle Print Laurel Dress

I’ve made another Laurel Dress and I love, love, love it! This is also my second completed make from my Summer plans! I made this pattern twice before (1, 2), not long after I started sewing my own clothes but I made them too small.  I still wore them around the time I made them because I’d made them and I was proud, but once I discovered more comfortable patterns they soon got neglected and I gave them to a charity shop a few months ago. I made the mistake (I think) of choosing the size closest to my bust measurement, when I know my chest is small so I should choose based on my waist/hip measurement if I want a thing to actually fit, and do an sba if necessary. I previously made the size zero (bust 33, waist 25, hip 35) and this time I made the size 4 (bust 35, waist 27, hips 37) and it’s so comfortable, but still looks like it’s the right size across my shoulders – it was the sleeves and armholes that were particularly snug the last time. For reference my measurements are: bust 32, waist 27, hips 37.

The fabric is some gorgeous cotton lawn from Fabric Godmother, which is sadly now out of stock. I didn’t really realise that cotton lawns are thinner than cottons so this dress is quite thin, but I think layered with tights, a vest and a cardigan, it will work for the colder weather. But it’s also a good dress for this warm weather we’ve been having!

I added in-seam pockets because I was going to add the patch pockets but I couldn’t really face pattern matching the fabric, so I went for the hidden option! I also made no attempt to pattern match across the back – I figured it’s a large enough design to get away with no matching.

I made version 3, which has the ruffles on the sleeves. This pattern is pretty old so I’m amazed it has this option included, since ruffled sleeves have been a trend for a couple of years now! The ruffles are really easy to add, in case anyone is wanting to try it. You could also easily add ruffles to another pattern – it’s just a rectangle gathered into the end of the sleeve. For this pattern there are 2 rectangles for each ruffle which are stitched together to hide the wrong side of the fabric on the inside of the sleeve.

I will say this dress does come out quite short – though it doesn’t look like it in these photos because the camera is looking a little down on me. I’m 5’3″ and it’s above the knee on me so if you’re tall you might need to lengthen it a bit so you don’t end up with a tunic instead of a dress!

I think, as with the Inari becoming my go-to tee/tee dress pattern, I think the Laurel could become my go-to shift dress pattern now I’ve made it in a size that fits and is comfortable. Though I do have the Carnaby Dress cut out and ready to make, so maybe I’ll have 2 shift dress patterns!


I think I was running out of enthusiasm for posing at this point?!

Have you made the Laurel Dress? Or rediscovered a pattern that didn’t work when you made it before but now it’s a favourite? I feel like I might revisit some other patterns I’d written off because they were uncomfortable and see if I made the same mistake with the sizing as I did with the Laurel!

 

 

5 Things I Learned from Me Made May 2016

mmmay16Did you take part in Me Made May this year? How did you find it? I think this was the year I enjoyed least – the first 2 years I took part I was so excited to have enough me made clothes to be able to take part that I really enjoyed making an effort to wear my me mades and find ways to make them work in my wardrobe. I wonder if it was because for the first 3/4 of May I wasn’t working so it felt odd to get slightly dressed up – I feel like most of my me mades are smart/casual. But then conversely when I did get some temping work I found it hard to dress for a smarter office than I’ve worked in before.

My pledge was “I, Amelia of www.sewingmachinations.wordpress.com, pledge to wear at least one me-made garment 5 days per week. I will also try to finish off 3 garments I have cut out and make a completely me-made outfit for a wedding I’m going to at the end of May.”

I definitely completed the days of the week part – there were only 4 days when I didn’t make something me-made (sometimes I wore the same outfit 2 days in a row, in case you think there aren’t enough photos below :)). I did finish the outfit for the wedding – you can see the full post on it here. And I did technically finish 3 garments I already had cut out, though only 2 of them made it to the blog and only those 2 got worn, so I would call that a partial success.

Here are 5 things I realised while taking part in #mmmay16.

1  I freakin’ suck at taking selfies/ photos of myself in my clothes – like really really suck. In my defense I don’t currently have a full-length mirror and I felt bad asking The Boyfriend to take a picture every day. Also I kept forgetting until I’d got ready for bed!

Day 1 insta Day 2 insta Day 3 insta
Day-4-insta-square Day-5-&-6-insta-square Day 8 insta

(clockwise from top left: royal blue coco top, navy blue rushcutter, flowery plantain +
mustard yellow victoria blazer + taken in trousers, blue spotty archer,
breton plantain + refashioned victoria blazer, francoise dress)

2  It was much harder to dress for office work. I’ve been doing some temping since moving and it’s the first time I’ve had to wear office-type clothes – I’ve always been in quite casual jobs where I could wear jeans and trainers.

Day 9 insta Day 10 insta Day 11 insta
Day 12 insta Day 13 insta Day 14 insta

(clockwise from top left: flowery banksia, refashioned parrot shirt,
refashioned shirt dress, pink stripey banksia + black simplicity 2451 skirt,
refashioners refashioned shirt, turquoise coco top)

3  Conversely I don’t have much casual me-made things – for weekends and the weeks before I started temping.

Day 16 Day 17 insta Day 18 insta
Day 19 insta Day 20 insta Day 22 insta

(clockwise from top left: navy blue rushcutter, aztec print linden,
gingham violet blouse,
flowery plantain + mustard yellow victoria blazer +
taken in trousers, 
blue spotty archer, blue stripey laurel

4  I don’t have much warm me-made clothing and this year was unseasonably bloody cold through most of the month.

Day-21-square Day-21-b-square Day 24 insta
Day 25 insta Day 27 insta Day 28 & 29 insta
Day 30 insta Day 31 insta

(clockwise from top left – ending in the middle: lace dress for wedding,
mustard yellow victoria blazer, coco dress, green tartan gbsb
boyfriend shirt
, orla kiely-esque laurel + black victoria blazer,
breton plantain, black victoria blazer + refashioned freemantle
coat
, blue flowery scout tee)

5 I need to make some bottoms, especially trousers. All my photos are of tops or dresses – and mostly where there aren’t bottoms shown, it was a pair of rtw jeans from Primark about 10 years ago or a part of rtw skinny trousers from New Look about 8 years ago!

melilot-shirt-patternSo my plans are to sew some more smarter things for office working, including the Deer and Doe Melilot shirt which I just ordered – I have some perfect floaty fabric already in my stash. I also am going to order the Guise Pants pattern I think and maybe (once I’ve finally made some Ginger Jeans) use the Ginger pattern to make some smarter looking skinny trousers, by not doing the top stitching or adding the hardware – I think this will work, watch this space! I also bought some stuff in the sale Colette had recently – the Aster, Astoria and Zinnia which I think will all work well for office wear.

Roberts Collection 2

I think the 3 Colette patterns could, depending on fabric choice, also fill the other gap I have – relaxing weekend clothes. Apart from jeans I don’t have many items that I would wear just for slobbing around the house – and certainly not any I’ve made. And sometimes I don’t want to wear jeans, especially if I’m feeling bloated and am sitting down a lot – say at my sewing machine – I usually end up undoing the buttons just to feel comfortable. I have Marilla Walker’s Roberts Collection and I think this could really help me out with this hole. If you have any suggestions of patterns to sew (I’m too slow at knitting to knit any) warm clothes, I would be thrilled to take them off your hands. Also what fabrics are warm? I feel like I usually don’t take that into account and then end up too cold or too hot a lot of the time – usually too cold as a) I like in Britain and b) I’m cold-blooded I think.

I’m wondering if I should make a pledge for what I will have achieved by next Me Made May, to keep myself accountable!? Nah. I don’t want a whole year’s worth of sewing mapped out for me – what about all the pretty new patterns yet to come out!

 
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Navy-Spotty-Rushcutter-thumb 2 Fix It: Taking in the Waistband of Trousers thumbnail Black-Victoria-Blazer-thumb 2

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Book: Colette Sewing Handbook

After making a couple of Colette Patterns (Violet Blouse and Laurel Dresses 1 & 2), I thought it might be nice to review the Colette Sewing Handbook. I know this book is now quite old, but it’s relatively new to me. I got this book for free via my old job in a bookshop – a perk I definitely miss! I didn’t get it for free to review here, though.

Colette Handbook 1The book is like several sewing books I have (it’s an addiction, what can I say?) in that it takes you from knowing absolutely nothing about sewing and teaches you all the basic techniques and equipment, through all the things you might need to know until you can make some clothes, and with some patterns included.

The tips pages include:

Tools and SuppliesColette Handbook 2Hand stitchesColette Handbook 3Editing for your style (like Coletterie’s series Wardrobe Architect)

Colette Handbook 4Choosing fabric
Colette Handbook 8The patterns included are in an envelope at the back of the book:

Colette Handbook 12

Meringue Skirt – the book has some good tips for how to deal with scallops.

Colette Handbook 5Pastille Dress – there’s a whole mini chapter before this pattern on getting a perfect fit, including a sway back adjustment, which is something I always mean to do as I have a narrow back and curved posture.

Colette Handbook 7Truffle Dress

Colette Handbook 9Taffy blouse

Colette Handbook 10Licorice dress

Colette Handbook 11
I think the only one of the included patterns which is even vaguely my style is the Pastille dress, which I’ll try to make one day, when I’ve made all the other patterns on my list…. Does anyone else have loads of patterns, from books, and from companies, which you want to make, but never have the time to, and yet you keep buying more? And more fabric. Always more fabric! Has anyone made any of the patterns from this book?

Anyhoos, the things I like about this book are that it’s spiral bound – this might seem silly, but I’ve made a couple of aprons from the first GBSB book and trying to keep a non-spiral bound book open while trying to read the instructions is frankly a pain in the arse, so spirals are good. I also have found the instructions on the Colette patterns I’ve made really clear to understand, so I have high hopes for the fitting tips being useful. Do you have this book? What do you think? Do you have any other favourite sewing books? The new Great British Sewing Bee book is definitely on my list!

Colette Laurel 2

When I wrote my post about my first Laurel, I mentioned that it wasn’t the only one I’ve made. I made my second one pretty quickly after the first one. I made this one from the same fabric as my Mimi Blouse, because there was quite a long length of it.

Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-1I love this fabric – not sure I mentioned that before?!

The only additional change I made was to lower the bust darts by 1 inch. You can see the pulling at my armpits in the above photo – I definitely need to alter the armscye to give myself more room – any tips on how to do that?

Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-2I’ve realised, looking at these photos that the fabric is slightly see-through – and I was wearing black underwear! Oops! Oh well…

Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-3

I didn’t bother about pattern matching the dress – as you can see above, on the back seam in particular. I did, however, pattern match the the pockets, as best I could – they didn’t match quite as well as I’d hoped, but from a distance, you can’t really see them. Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-5I used a dark brown zip from my stash and some black bias binding, also from my stash, so this was a pretty cheap make. I also used french seams as the fabric frayed like a bitch.

Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-6Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-4I don’t really have much to say about this dress, as it’s pretty simple to construct and I talked about the changes I made in my previous post! All I can say is I love it! I’ve had several compliments from people whenever I wear it and I always delight in the moment where I can say ‘I made it myself’ – does anyone else secretly like those moments?

And I’ll leave you with this photo, with the odd expression!

Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-7

Blue and White Stripey Laurel Dress

I made my first Colette Laurel dress back in the Summer – I’m a bit behind with blogging my finished makes! I say this is my first because I have already made a second, and I have plans for more.

Stripey-Laurel-2I made the size zero dress, with short sleeves. This was made from some cheap polycotton which I got as a remnant from Rolls and Rems on Holloway Road. I think I paid about £6.99 and got probably 3 metres. The fabric is quite thin, so I decided to underline it with a sheet I had lying around. This does make it quite warm, which is great for the Winter, but a bit sucky for the Summer! This was my first time underlining and I found it pretty straight forward – just cut out everything twice and sew the inside and outside fabrics together around the edges, within the seam allowances, and then sew the doubled pieces together as normal.

I used all french seams, as I usually do these days – I do like a pretty inside!

(I should really have ironed this before I took pictures!)
Stripey-Laurel-5

I did have to make one fitting change. As the pattern was drafted, I couldn’t get the sleeves over my arms. I’ve had this with other patterns, so I think I might have big arms compared to the rest of me! I tried reducing the seam allowances to 1cm but that wasn’t enough, I still couldn’t bend my arms. I had to redraft the sleeve pattern with an extra 2cm on each side, to give me some extra room. Has anyone else had this issue? On this or another pattern (btw, this isn’t the only pattern where I’ve had this happen!).

Stripey-Laurel-6I had a 12in invisible zip in my stash so I used that instead of the 22in one requested in the pattern. I used the tutorial on the Colette website to help me put this in – I always forget how to do invisible zips!

Check out my stripe matching! I’m definitely getting better at it!

Stripey-Laurel-11

Stripe matched side seam – not quite as good as the back.

Stripey-Laurel-9

Pretty much invisible pockets:

Stripey-Laurel-10You can almost see here that the pockets, which I didn’t underline are see through.

Stripey-Laurel-1Stripey-Laurel-4

There’s a bit of pulling around the arm area, as you can see here. I needed to lower the bust darts too on the second version. I think I need to give myself more room on the arm holes as well as in the sleeves, then the pulling would hopefully go away.  Stripey-Laurel-3But in short, I love this dress!

Stripey-Laurel-8