Art Deco Carnaby Dress

This is my first – and no doubt last – Nina Lee Carnaby Dress and I love it! This was one of my planned Summer makes and I did make it last month, but just as the weather started to turn a bit chiller. Hopefully I will get some wear out of it with tights and a cardigan in this Autumnal weather. I do slightly wish I’d made it without sleeves so I can wear it with a long-sleeved top underneath for extra warmth, but c’est la vie!

And it has pockets! I really like how they’re hidden in the hem seam.

The fabric is some lovely cotton from Sew Over It, which they sadly don’t have any more. In fact I got the last metre and a half/ 2 hours (I can’t remember which). When I first saw the fabric, I thought it would make great pyjamas, but they didn’t have enough left for the Carolyn Pyjamas.

I made the size 10 and the only change I made was to use an invisible zip instead of the exposed one called for in the pattern. I also spent ages trying to pattern match across the back seam and on the pocket seams but it didn’t seem to work as well as I’d hoped. I managed to just about get it to look matched across the back, if not perfectly centred.

The pocket seam is almost hidden, but again, not as well as I’d hoped. I think I just need a bit more practice at doing it – I haven’t done much pattern matching before, so I’m not the best at it!

I really do like this fabric – there will be lots of colours of tights and cardigans I can wear with it. And it was a pretty quick make. This was my first Nina Lee pattern (I have plans to make the Portobello trousers before the year is out) and I’m impressed. The drafting seems to be good – often I find sleeves and shoulder seams really tight, but this fits and is comfortable right out of the packet. The instructions were also really clear and easy to follow. Next time I might do the exposed zip she recommends as the instructions for that seemed really clear too. I would definitely recommend this if you’re relatively new to sewing, or if you want a quick make that will give you a really chic dress.

With this and my jungle print laurel, I have definitely rediscovered my love of the simple shift dress.

p.s. I might keep my eyes open for anyone selling more of this fabric as I would still like some really chic pyjamas – let me know if you see it anywhere!

 

 

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!

 

 

Bright Turquoise Inari Tee Dress

As I mentioned in my Summer sewing plans, one of the things on my list was an Inari tee dress made from some turquoise cotton twill I bought literally years ago and was cut out last year. Well this year I made it – it really is a quick sew so I don’t know why I didn’t get around to it last year!

I’ve made the cropped tee version of the Inari pattern twice before – once in stripey jersey (which I just added a hem band to to lengthen it a bit) and once in crazy silver fabric for the New Craft House Summer party last year where I won best outfit!!! Coincidentally (or not, I don’t know) I’m wearing the Tatty Devine necklace I won at the New Craft House in these photos! The dress felt a little ‘surgical gown’ so I decided I needed an accessory.

I made the dress in the same size as the tees, which is size 8, and it fits really nicely. I went through a phase with patterns where when making them to match my measurements, the sleeves and armholes were too tight, making the garment a little too uncomfortable to want to wear, but I’ve not had that problem with the Inari, thankfully. I think this might become my go-to tee and tee dress pattern.

I really love the cocoon-y shape of the dress and the split hem. It adds enough interest to make it not as simple, but it was still really simple to construct  and the instructions are perfect.

I also love that the sleeves have cuffs – I’m in favour of any design element that means I don’t have to measure and sew a hem. I think hemming is my least favourite part of sewing, though hems never take as long as I think they will!

I think my choice of white overlocking thread was adding to the ‘surgical gown’ vibes I was getting from this dress. I don’t know why I thought white would be the best colour – probably because it was already threaded with white! Anyone else do that? Slightly in my defence, the only colours I currently have are black, navy and white. Maybe navy would have been better? But either way it was never going to match completely. I think I need to invest in some other colours of overlocker thread! At least a mid blue as I do sew blue things fairly often.

 

Today’s outtake is brought to you by ‘what pose should I do next’ face. I took outfit pictures of several things at once and this was the last one so I – and the boyfriend – was getting a bit fed up and this is the result! Also you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve ironed this dress to get it not looking crumpled, to no avail!

Have you got a go-to tee/tee dress pattern? I’m slightly tempted by Tilly and the Buttons new Stevie pattern, but I’m trying to not buy so many patterns until I’ve sewn more of the ones I already have – and especially if I already have a pattern that serves the same function, then do I need another one?

But shiiiiiinnnyyyy……..

 

 

Gold Scuba Ebony Dress

Basically as soon as I finished my blue brushstrokes Ebony dressI ordered more scuba and made another one (though it’s only just making it to the blog)! I possibly love it even more, because of the amazing fabric and the fitting tweaks I made.

I bought the fabric from Sew Me Sunshine but they are sadly now out of stock – though I’m not surprised as it’s so nice. Fabric Godmother do still have it in stock, though, if you want to get your hands on some. I first saw the design as a cotton and was tempted to get some but wasn’t really sure what to make so I was thrilled when it became available as a scuba.

I made mostly the size 2 again, as with my first version, but I retraced the sleeves and armscyes in a size 6 as the sleeves were soooo tight in the size 2. I also again reduced the seam allowance to 0.5cm instead of 1cm to give myself even more room. The sleeves and shoulders definitely fit better on this version, though the other version is totally wearable. I also want to make the Ebony tee (probably in the cropped length) so I’ll probably make the same adjustment, though with a stretchier jersey it might not feel quite as restrictive – scuba has a relatively low amount of stretch, at least judging from the 2 I’ve used.

I still love the swingy shape of the Ebony – it is one of my favourite silhouettes out of everything I’ve made I think.

I sewed the dress on my sewing machine, with a zig zag stitch and then overlocked the seam allowances. I finished the hem and neckband with my trusty twin needle. I can’t quite get the tension right on my overlocker to feel like I’m happy sewing actual seams on it – also having had to unpick some overlocking before, I make too many mistakes to not stitch things first on my machine and then on the overlocker. Am I just being a wuss?

The only slight downside of this dress is that I recently changed jobs and am now working for a furnishing fabric company dispatching fabric (living the dream!) so I’m no longer based in an office and am lugging around bolts of fabric all day so I don’t know how much I’ll wear this. Though I’m tempted to wear it anyway, once the weather warms up a little – my workspace is really cold and I’m currently wearing 3 layers to work so this may not be warm enough until Spring finally arrives! I’ve realised I have lots of handmade dresses, so I can’t not wear any of them! Though I’m definitely going to focus on more casual basics and separates for the rest of the year.

 

 

Brushstrokes Scuba Ebony Dress

This might be a record – I finished my first Make Nine pattern in January! And I love it. As you will have seen from my makes for January post you’ll know I’ve actually already made 2 Ebony dresses, both from amazing scubas.

The scuba fabric was from Fabric Godmother and it is possibly the most expensive fabric I’ve bought, but I had to have it! I think the design was available in cotton or another fabric and I thought about getting it. wondering what I would make – then it was available as a scuba and I snapped some up on pay day a couple of months ago. Since Heather Lou made her Ebony in scuba, I couldn’t get the idea of a copy-cat out of my head. And I’m so pleased with the result!

The pattern is the Ebony tee and dress by Closet Case Patterns and is designed really for drapey knits, probably in a lighter weight, but I Think it works in scuba too, as you get more of an idea of the swingy shape.

I made the size 2 because I figured basing the size on my bust measurement would be fine, as it gets wider as it goes down the body. But I know from other patterns that generally my waist and hip measurements (27″ and 37″ respectively) are a size or two bigger than my bust size (32″) so I maybe should have gone more on the waist and hips size as the sleeves were waaaay too tight and pulled a bit across the shoulders.

Luckily I had sewn the dress on my sewing machine, and then neatened the seams with my overlocker, rather than sewing (and trimming) the whole thing on my overlocker. I generally do this anyway, but particularly when I haven’t made a pattern before. Having tried to unpick overlocked seams I like to stitch with my normal sewing machine – and a zig-zag stitch – first so when I inevitably make a mistake, it’s not such a ball-ache (or such a waste of thread) to fix it. This is a very long way of saying I reduced the seam allowance on the sleeves and under the arms (the sleeve seam and side seam are sewn in one go so making adjustments is comparatively easy) to 0.5cm instead of the 1cm included in the pattern. I think probably if I had used a drapey, stretchy knit as the pattern demands, I wouldn’t have had to make this adjustment, but since scuba isn’t as stretchy (kind of like a ponte) it did feel really restrictive.

I would definitely recommend this pattern if you like swingy dresses and it’s a great pattern to show of a fairly large-scale print as the pieces are so big and there aren’t any darts or anything to break it up.

Handily the thread I used for the twin needle top-stitching was the left over thread from the 2 mini chestnuts I made for my friend’s daughter. I got the fear about making 2 so bought 2 spools of thread and barely used one. But luckily it meant I had 2 spools ready to go for the twin needling!

There isn’t a huge amount more for me to say about this dress, except I love it. And I love the pattern. I might give the other versions a go – once I finally get around to making some high-waisted Ginger jeans, the cropped version might be a perfect pairing for them.

Have you sewn with scuba? I was a little scared but it’s really easy to work with as it’s like any other stable knit. Do you love Heather Lou and Closet Case patterns as much as I (and the Love To Sew Podcast!) do?