Nancy Dress from Crowd Fabric

I know I say this all the time, but this really is one of my favourite makes. If I say so myself, it was a good combination of fabric and pattern – and I love the pattern! It’s the Sew Over It Nancy Dress, which was I think the first pattern they released as part of their PDF club in January last year. The fabric was from Fabrics Galore and although I bought it ages ago, miraculously they still have it! There is a second colourway too. which is more blue and green. I made the size 10 based on my waist and hip measurements and since it’s a loose-fitting dress, I thought it would be okay that my bust measurement is about 2 inches smaller than listed for the size 10 and I think I was right. I’m glad I didn’t fiddle around trying to do a small bust adjustment!

I found the pattern quite simple to make, and even with my slightly inaccurate cutting because of the shifty fabric. The only fiddley part is adding the side panels in as there is a square corner, but the instructions talk you through how to do it and it worked out fine.

I like the fact that there isn’t a zip or any buttonholes in this dress. It just has a hook and eye at the top of the opening on the back. I used one from the old sewing box I bought from our local antiques shop, but it was a bad choice as it doesn’t stay closed. I think I need a smaller, tighter hook that will stay in its eye. Of course I finished this in November and still haven’t fixed this issue! I just put a safety pin on it! Anyone else do this – once something is finished and wearable, I can’t be bothered to fix it?! The trousers I altered in 2016 were missing a button until about 3 weeks ago!

I really love the swingy shape of this dress – and I’ve got loads of compliments on it each time I’ve worn it. I even wore it on Christmas Day! It was supposed to be my birthday dress but I didn’t get it finished in time so I wore my yellow Marianne dress instead on that day. I’ve already got another Nancy cut out from some viscose I bought ages and ages ago because I really like it as a comfortable but smart-looking work dress. I might sew the sleeves with a reduced seam allowance as that’s the only place that could be slight improved –  things are always tight on the sleeves on me and I don’t know why. I don’t think I have disproportionately big arms compared to the rest of me, but perhaps I do!

I tried to do some twirling to show the movement of the dress, but it didn’t really work – I think I should have filmed it and made a GIF (I say this as though I would know how to do this!).

This is definitely one of my favourite dresses – the only downside with viscose is it needs ironing and creases quite easily while worn but it’s worth it for the lovely drape. Do you have any favourite fabrics to sew with?

I didn’t have any funny outtakes from this photoshoot so I thought I’d share this ‘real’ photo of what I looked like before I took the other photos – in a warm jumper and slippers.

Btw, I forgot to mention it in my plans for 2018 post but one of my resolutions is to try to take better photos of my me-made outfits – I want to try to venture outside and maybe try different poses! I just need to magically become unselfconscious! If you have any tips for taking photos of yourself, please let me know!

 

 

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?

 

 

Geometric Yellow Marianne Dress

Following on from the success of making the In The Folds jersey dress for the second time, I decided to make another Marianne Dress (by Christine Haynes). The fabric was from Fabrics Galore, quite a while ago and I originally wanted to make a Closet Case Patterns Ebony Dress from it but I ordered 1.5m and not 2m. And I’m quite glad as I really like this Marianne dress. I really liked the other one I made, but I made it a little late in the year so haven’t worn it too much. But I’ve worn this one several times already!

I made the size 4, as before, but with the long sleeves and the cuffs. Plus I added pockets. Because pockets! I borrowed the ones from the Emery Dress and although they don’t sit perfectly flat, because the jersey is quite stretchy, it’s still a great thing to have pockets in a dress!

I feel as though this version doesn’t fit me quite as well as the other version, probably because of the sleeves. I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to fitting jersey, so I don’t know how to fix the drag lines under my arms. I did sign up to the Tilly and the Buttons Learn to Sew Jersey Tops Class a while ago so hopefully I’ll pick up some tips from that once I get around to taking it!

I really should have ironed the hem before I took these photos!

I really like the little cuff details on the long sleeves. They’re supposed to have buttons on, but I like them without.

And this is today’s outtake. No. Idea.

Do you have a favourite jersey dress pattern? I’ve made quite a few, but mostly only once or twice, I don’t have a tried or true pattern yet.

 

 

Stripey Jersey Dress

One of my favourite dresses I’ve made is this electric blue one, from a free pattern by In The Folds for Peppermint Magazine. I always get compliments whenever I wear it, and I love the slouchy shape, though it still makes me feel put together.

I love buying new patterns, and each time someone releases a shiny new one (Closet Case Patterns Sasha Trousers, I’m looking at you!) I find it really hard to resist buying them. I have so many patterns I’ve not yet made so often I make things once and think ‘I really like this, I’ll make it again’…..and then I don’t. So I’m trying to remedy this by making more versions of things I’ve liked making and wearing but have made only once or twice. This is the first of those patterns.

I made the size 10, as before, and the only change I made was to cut off the pockets (which are attached to the front and back pieces) and cut them out separately as I couldn’t quite fit the pieces as they were on the fabric. Speaking of which, this fabric was the one piece I managed to snag when What Katie Sews did an Instagram destash a few months ago. I could cheerfully have bought loads of things, but I was mostly too late, boo! But I did get this great stripey jersey. It’s nice and thick but still has a bit of drape so the dress hangs really nicely.

I was telling my friends at the Sewing Bee Live that I’m not totally convinced about raglan sleeves on me, but looking at these pictures, I don’t know what my problem is! I have a hang-up that my shoulders are wide, but given that that is often the place where things are too big on me, I think I might be a little bit mental! Since making this dress I’ve cut out another Linden sweatshirt, to give it another go as I wasn’t totally in love with my first version – but that may have been due to the fabric more than anything else.

I cut the neckband with the stripes going the other way, not realising that the fabric only stretches one way. So I can barely get it over my head! I think I might remove the neckband completely and just turn the neck under as that is the one place on my other version that isn’t totally comfortable – it’s a bit strangle-y when I’m sitting down.

I didn’t add the cuffs, which I had done on my other version, so I just turned a small hem up on each sleeve end. I also left off the hem band this time as I felt it made it slightly long on the other version. I also couldn’t squeeze it out of the fabric, and I’m glad I left it off as I like the more a-line shape of the skirt when it’s not pulled in by a hem band.

I did have enough fabric to pattern match the stripes on the side seams, but the eagle-eyed among you may spot – if you look at the hem – that the hem is not straight when you compare it to the stripes. This is because I wasn’t as careful as I could/should have been when folding the fabric in half to cut out the front and back. It looked like the stripes were lined up, but they were one out so the stripes have actually formed a spiral around the dress, so it’s impossible to hem it with the stripes straight – I tried and I reached my starting point but was still pinning more and more out of the hem as the spiral moved up the dress! Oops! Lesson learnt.

And today’s outtake it brought to you by not making it back to my photo spot in time for the camera timer!

Do you make patterns more than once or are you seduced by shiny new ones, like me. Or a combination of the two? I think that’s what I’m hoping I’ll aim for as I don’t want to stop supporting all the wonderful indie designers, but also I don’t have unlimited money and time for buying and making new patterns constantly.

 

 

My Dressmakers’ Ball Dress (AKA Red Carpet Copycat)

After I shared a sneaky peak of what I was making for the Dressmakers’ Ball, I am now here to show you the finished outfit (which you may have already seen if you follow me on Instagram!)

But first I want to share a little bit about the ball itself……it was amazing! It was run by the lovely ladies at Crafty Sew & So, a fabric shop in Leicester. It was so nice to see everyone go all out when given the excuse – and I’m sure some of us don’t need much of an excuse! I kept thinking how awesome it was that sewing allows us to express ourselves exactly as we want to. I can’t imagine how painful it is shopping for a prom dress, or even a wedding dress, and not finding exactly what you want. My prom dress was made by my mum and now I know if I’m going to a wedding or something, whatever I can imagine that I want to wear I can make (within the boundaries of my skills of course!).

These are all the ‘advanced’ dressmakers (which meant you had been sewing for 3 or more years). The photo is by TKL Photography, and I thought it was great that they had a professional photographer taking pictures because whenever I’m having a good time I don’t think to take any (which I guess it how it should be!)

I went with my friend Sarah who I met at the Sew Brizzle meet ups and Jen, also from Bristol, was there too (though she didn’t take part in the competition so isn’t in the photo above).

I was really impressed with the beginner dressmakers too – they had all been sewing for less than 3 years, and some of them had made their dress for the ball and it was the first or second thing they every made! They were a lot, lot, lot better than the first and second things I made, I can tell you! I tried to take some photos, but they’re all terrible and mostly of people’s backs, so do go check out the photo album on CraftySew&So’s facebook page.

Special shout out goes to Kendell, who I sat next to at dinner, and who won the beginner dressmaker category. She has only been sewing since September! (Photo by TKL Photography). Amazing!

Helen from Stitch My Style (who I’ve had a bit of a girl crush on for a while now because I love her vlogs!) won the advanced dressmaker category for her latest recreation project – after the amazingness that was her Marilyn Monroe Dress – the opera dress from Pretty Woman. It truly was a wonder to behold, and she had completely shelf-drafted it. She is a very talented lady! Also I got to chat to her a little bit on the night, and the next morning when some people met for breakfast and she’s as lovely and funny in real life as you’d expect from her videos.

Here she is (left) with the equally lovely Elisalex from By Hand London, who was one of the judges, and Nina from Nina Lee patterns, who I met a couple of years ago at a meet-up and I was surprised she remembered me – for some reason I always assume people will forget me as soon as I leave the room!

Well, this might be enough chat about how great the ball was and maybe I should show you some photos of my dress?

Here it is from the front – looks kind of boring I think, though it is a good colour – the fabric is the leftovers from my By Hand London Alix Dress. The bodice is the Christine Haynes Emery, which is my go to basic bodice as I did quite a bit of fitting back when I first made it, and I’m too lazy to do it all again with a different pattern! The front skirt, though it a sort of made up thing. I used the skirt I drafted for my Navy Lace dress but I extended it to the ground and made the top of the skirt the same length as the bottom of the bodice (plus seam allowances, of course).

There is also a split up the front of the skirt. I did this using a random tutorial I found online, where you make a sort of facing, sewing either side of the line you want for the split, cut the line between the 2 rows of stitching, then turn it to the inside and voila! You have a split, with the raw edges all enclosed. I then handstitched the facing part to the inside using herringbone stitch – there was a lot of handsewing on this dress as the fabric marks quite easily, so where I might have machined a hem on a less ball-worthy dress, I did it all by hand on this one.

You also might be able to see there are trousers underneath my dress. I thought about buying the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers pattern, but then I remembered I have Gertie Sews Vintage Casual which has a Cigarette Trousers pattern, so I used that.

I did have to do quite a bit of adjusting to the trousers, but I failed to write any notes so I’m stuffed if I want to make them again! I moved the back zip to one of the side seams, shortened the legs on the pattern by an inch below the knee and then took them in quite a lot on the legs. Like an inch or more on each leg, inside and out.  They didn’t look perfect but they looked okay. And they fitted okay across the bum from the beginning, so that was a bonus!

Anyway, the interesting thing about my outfit is the back!

As you may have already recognised, this is a copy of an outfit worn by Emma Watson at the Golden Globes a couple of years ago. I tried to recreate her pose, but it didn’t really work. I added a second strap to hide my bra strap. Also I have no idea how her dress is staying up – I added some really strong interfacing to mine, but it still wasn’t quite enough. Luckily Helen from Stitch My Style had some spare (ehem) tit tape so Sarah stuck the top corners to my back, which was great because otherwise I would have spent the whole night adjusting it!

I love how the wind caught the dress in the above photo! The fabric was pleasingly swishy to dance in, but because it’s only half a dress and because of the split, it wasn’t as swirly as Elisalex’s dress, which was definitely one of the best for twirling in!

I’m pretty proud of my pleating on the back, so here’s a close-up. This fabric creases like a bitch, but it does mean once pleats have been ironed in, they stay!

This is me trying to copy Emma Watson’s pose – semi successful I think. If I had a stylist and someone to teach me how to pose, it might have been closer! Oh well!

Emma Watson Christian Dior, Golden Globes

To sum up, I really love this dress/outfit! I really enjoyed working out how to recreate something I’ve only seen in photos. And it was great to have an opportunity/excuse to make one of the things I’ve been dreaming about making for aaages! I also, surprisingly, enjoyed all of the handsewing. I think next year – assuming they’re running the ball again – I want to make something with a more tricky fabric to work with. Maybe velvet, which I’ve not sewn with yet. And I’d like to give boning a try. I’ve already got an idea in mind of another red carpet copy cat dress, but I’m not going to share it yet because no doubt I will change my mind by next May! I might try to recreate some others of my favourite red carpet looks too, like the less formal ones – I don’t know how many gowns I’ll need in my wardrobe!

I’ll leave you with another photo of our photography assistant who showed up again as The Boyfriend was taking these photos! You may recognise him from the photos I took of my denim moss skirt. I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but he lost an eye a few months ago, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed him down.

He seemed pretty determined to photobomb me!

But I couldn’t resist his lovely face. He really is a friendly cat and comes into our flat if we leave our back door open 🙂

Save

Save

Save

 

 

Save