Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sew Cheap December (Final!) Free Pattern Review: Tate Top

This year has absolutely flown and this is my final (!) monthly Sew Cheap Make and Free Pattern Review of the year. I sewed this top up last night after stressing that I still had so much Christmas present making to do. Self sabotage at its best! This is the Workroom Social Free Tate Top Pattern. It's a racer back top with a zipper closure and front neckline darts with options for a square racer back, cropped length or tunic length. The top is available in multi sizing but is drafted for a B cup.

The PDF pattern came together easily with four pattern pieces: front bodice, back version A, and two pieces to make up back version b. I decided to make the traditional racerback version as there are no line drawings or pictures of the square back and I've never tried that style on. I cut a size 8 based on the final measurements in the tunic length. Only final measurements are provided so remember to pick the size based on your bust measurement plus ease.

My fabric is a I-cant-quite-remember-what from Darn Cheap fabrics, bought last year. I bought this fabric as soon as it was made available but I just couldn't picture it as anything. I'm so happy I decided on this top for it. I'm also pleased I took a little extra care in getting the stripes to match up at the seams. 

Changes: I did make a couple of simple changes. I didn't think a zip was necessary so I left a slit at the centre back neckline and added a hook and eye. I much prefer this finish on a summer blouse. I took about 3" of the front, and a bit more from the back before hemming, this also removed some of the curved back hem line. The tunic length was like a dress on me. However, this did make me think what a fun dress this would make by adding 10" or so.

There are absolutely no instructions provided for this pattern. The website states that instructions were provided for those taking part in The Sewing Party classes. However, this top is a very basic design so anybody with a few garments under their belt would be able to put this together. Construction is: neckline darts; centre back seam with zip or slit; shoulders; side seams bias binding neckline and armholes. Seam allowances are included at 5/8". 

I French seamed the side and shoulders seams, but stitched and overlocked the centre back before pressing seam allowances away from each other and stitching around the slit at the upper back neckline. 

I really like the way this top turned out and I will definitely use the patten again. what a fabulous summer staple pattern. I can see it made up in a whole range of gorgeous bright silks and rayons. The fit is really good. I definitely recommend giving this pattern a go. However those with a bigger cup size will definitely have to consider a FBA.

Tim took photos this morning as we headed out the door (hence the tired eyes) and I get the pleasure of wearing a new top to a sad goodbye lunch for a wonderful colleague and friend followed by a cheerful celebration dinner of mine and Tim's anniversary.

If you like this post, check out my Sew Cheap: Top Tips Sew Cheap: Free Patterns and previous Sew Cheap posts. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas Liberty Alder Shirtdress

I wanted to make a dress especially for Christmas day but I don't think that's going to happen with all the present sewing I still have ahead of me. Instead I think I'll wear this newly made Liberty Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress. The colourway is pretty perfect for Christmas and I'll certainly be comfortable.

I bought the Eleonora Pink Red Liberty from Tessuti a few months back and immediately cut out a version B size 8 Alder Shirtdress. The pattern pieces then sat in a pile in my sewing room for some weeks. I think I was all buttoned out after making my three previous alder shirtdresses, alder shirts, and Tim's shirt.

There isn't much to say about making this dress that hasn't been said previously. The instructions are excellent and the dress is particularly simple to make if you already have shirt making experience. If not easier to make than a shirt as you don't have to worry about setting in sleeves and attaching cuffs.

The Liberty was amazing to sew with and press. It also feels great to wear and breaths well in the heat. I used self fabric bias binding as I've recently found that the pre-purchased binding often doesn't wear as well and the short time it takes to make it is well worth the effort. The buttons are tan coloured with black stripes coming from the centre.

I love this pattern and I know I'll get heaps of wear from the four I've made up all summer long, add tights and they're winter appropriate too.

So unless I'm feeling particularly ambitious Christmas eve this will be my Christmas day dress. Anyone else thinking they might squeeze in last minute hand-made Christmas dress?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Bluegingerdoll Odette Dress

The Odette Dress by Bluegingerdoll was released a little while ago now and I've been meaning to blog about it for some time. The dress is a fit and flare with a lined bodice, several sleeve options and a V neckline with an optional buttoned insert.

I pattern tested the Odette for Abby and had a great experience with the pattern and instructions. I cut a size 8 bust - 10 waist/hips in version A. The fit was pretty well spot on except for needing to remove a little extra length from the hem. For the fabrics I used a stiff floral cotton and an orange cotton sateen from The Cloth Shop. I love the combination and hoped that it would be quite a quirky dress. I decided to make flat piping for the bodice neckline and use the contrast for the inset as well.

First, let me talk about what I love about this dress. The design is incredibly sweet. I love the contrasting inset but love the dress equally with it removed. 

The bodice is a great fit and the fabric is so fun. The lack of drape meant it was perfect for a fitted bodice compared to a full skirt for example. While my neckline binding is slightly dodgy I don't think it's too noticeable. I'm not normally one to wear gored skirts but I love the fullness it adds to this dress design. 

Okay, here comes the not so great part. For some reason, I cut corners on this dress and felt the "need for speed" sewing. I had quite a bit else going on at the time of making it and I pumped out the dress way too quickly, not taking the time to make good decisions about the quality of my stitching. 

From afar this dress looks pretty darn cute. Up close it is a total red hot mess. The hem of the skirt and where I attached the skirt to the bodice by stitching in the ditch is just plain gross. I'm embarrassed to even show this sewing. The zipper insertion was a case of good enough for now. But it is truly not good enough. It's a good 1/4"out at the waist seams. What was I thinking?

What's worse is the fit is great, I really like the design and the fabric is so fun! So, why oh why didn't I take the time to make this dress wearable with out being totally embarrassed about my shoddy sewing? This make taught me a lot about what I want out of sewing and that it's not just about ticking another garment off my list.

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Elisalex Dress Journey & Unintentional Copycat

Making this Elisalex Dress was quite the journey. I bought the pattern from indie stitches in April. Perhaps it wouldn't be such a frustration if I was sewing it up now, instead of earlier in the year when my sewing skills were still fairly wobbly. But I doubt it.  Here's a photo of the final product before I get on with the gory details.

According to my measurements I cut a size 12 grading to a 14 waist and hips. I cut the skirt length the smallest size as I knew it would be longer than my preference. I used the same thick poly fabric as my A-line Libby skirt and some floral cotton I picked up at an op shop for the lining. This dress is an unintential copycat of Busy Lizzy from Brizzy's third elisalex. It was meant to be a wearable muslin that I planned to wear out to a friends birthday dinner in May this year. That didn't happen.  

Sewing up the dress wasn't too much hassle. The instructions were fine, I followed them closely, and everything came together easily. When I tried on pre-zipper insertion I noticed a few problem areas. the waist seam was too low, the straps were too long, the bodice too tight at the sides and there was massive gapeing on both the back and front neckline. I made the following adjustments: 
  1. Took the waist seam up by 1/2".
  2. Took the straps in by 1/4"
  3. Took out the bodice side seams 1/4"
  4. Inserted the zipper with a larger seam allowance at the top of the CB grading down to normal S/A by the waist to remove some back gape
  5. Shortened skirt so that you could see my ankles...also my knees (took 9" off!).

These kind of adjustment aren't totally crazy, and I expected to have to make a few changes so I wasn't too bothered. I finished the dress and tried it on. It fit (just) and I was trying to convince my self it looked OK. I went to show Tim and it was clear that this dress was still all wrong on me. Alas, I wore a different outfit that night and Elisalex sat under my sewing table for months. 

Before Frocktails (September) I had the sudden inspiration to fix this dress so that it could be a back up option if I didn't get around to making my Elisalex Emery Hybrid (so glad I did though!). I tried it on, pinned some problem areas and took a few shots. In the photos you can see that there is still about an inch of excess fabric in the shoulders; the waist is still too long (about 3/8"); there is a lot of excess fabric at the back waist, and; it's just too tight! I didn't take a side on shot (sorry!), but when looking side one you could also see that the back waist dropped down at the CB (about 3/4" lower than the front and sides) which made the skirt lopsided and also my chest was squished flat by the too tight upper bodice. 

More changes followed:

  1. Took in the shoulder seams by 1/2"
  2. Took out the front princess seams, in particular around the bust region and less so at the waist.
  3. Unpicked the skirt from the bodice, trimmed down the bodice waist by 1/4"at the front and sides grading up to a 3/4"at the centre back. This helped with the skirt dropping at the centre back and the excess fabric at the back. 
So how does it look now? Still no where near perfect. It fits much better than it did and is definitely wearable. However there is still gape-age at the back neckline, the front bodice still gives the effect of flattening out my front, and there is still some excess fabric in the back bodice. But, its wearable...

Will I wear it? Well I finished this dress in September and I haven't worn it yet except to get blog photos. It's not flattering, and more than that, when I look at it on all I see are the problems I had with fitting this pattern. The fabric isn't helping. I think it looks really effective  but it doesn't feel great to wear and it puckered along the seams and hem.

Will I sew another Elisalex Dress? Nope, I'll definitely use the (shortened) skirt pattern to hack other dresses and also to make skirts, but that bodice doesn't remotely fit my body. The bodice pattern doesn't flatter my shape, its roomy where it shouldn't be and tight and flattening where I need the room. Obviously my body isn't the BHL type. I know it would be possible to alter the bodice pattern but I just don't think it's worth it. I have other princess seamed dresses/ bodice patterns that fit me much better. I've read a mixed reception about the Elisalex pattern. For so many its their go-to party dress pattern that works everytime. For others, like me, the fitting and muslin's required to make it work are just too much. 

Am I happy I finally finished the dress? Yes! I don't know if I'll where this dress, but I'm so glad I finished it and it no longer haunts me from the corner of my sewing room.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Nat's Birthday Alice Top

Here is my sister's Birthday Top, after trial one and two previously blogged. Nat decided on the Tessuti Patterns Alice top for her gorgeous blue and white linen from The Cloth Shop. 

Not too much to say in this post. For a review of the pattern check out my own version. 

I used some beautiful Ramie fabric to line bodice and self fabric for the sleeves. You  catch glimpses of the inner sleeves when wearing so it's a good idea to use self or at least a coordinating fabric. I didn't interface the sleeves on this version as I thought mine were a bit too stiff.

Nat tried on my top (size XS) and we decided to make the XXS for her. The hem is 2.5", quite a bit longer than mine. 

The top fits her really well and I think the pattern was the perfect choice for the lovely birdy linen. Happy Birthday Nat!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Birthday Pom Pom Tutu

After seeing a store version my sister, Nat,  requested a pom pom tutu dress for V for her 2nd birthday. I found these two images on Pinterest for some inspiration. It looks like pom pom tutus are, in fact, a thing, but they are rarely seen in stores or on the streets. At least, I've  never witnessed a pom pom tutu in the wild, until now.

I ended up making up V's outfit as I went along. I decided I'd make a skirt and dress that could be worn together (like a dress) or separately so that the skirt can be worn as a dress up.  

For the skirt I layered together a whole lot of soft white and purple tulle with the outermost layer a double layer, folded in half at the hem. I sewed up the back centre seam, filled the outer layer with pom poms, gathered the skirt and attached it to a glitter elastic waistband. As easy as that. Except that I kind of hated sewing the tulle. It shifted around and was incredibly hard to see. Some dodgy sewing was involved, but luckily V doesn't care one bit.

I used the Pretty In Peplum dress pattern as a basis for the dress. I cut a size 2, extended the peplum to be a circle skirt and attached it to the bodice. Instead of the intended neckline facings I cut a neckband to attach. I top stitched dress in purple thread to match the purple tutu. The fabric is a cotton knit with a simple but cute cake slice print.

V was a little confused as to why there were pom pom inside her skirt but otherwise it was well received. She looks ridiculously cute in her new skirt! Happy 2nd birthday V.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Birthday Dress: Modified M6961

This time of year brings out stressy sewing in me. Having enough time to sew for Birthday gifts, Christmas gifts as well as wanting to sew a couple of summer frocks for my birthday and upcoming festive season can all get a bit overwhelming. Thankfully everything I need for my birthday dress was already purchased. I decided on McCall's 6961, of which there are almost no reviews. The sleeveless top is cute, but I'd never be tempted by those sleeves or the multi layer ruffle. What I imagined when I bought the pattern was a cross body floaty dress.

I cut a size 12 bodice grading to a 14 waist/ hips. This is one size down from what is recommended on the envelope to account for enormous amounts of ease. I've lost a small amount of weight recently and in hind-sight I should have cut a 10-12. I cut version A, but used the skirt off another pattern. I also cut a skirt lining as my fabric was quite sheer. 

My fabric is a stunning cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics. The feel and drape is just beautiful, much more like rayon or cotton silk blend. Not to mention the print! I bought this shopping with Rachel who was convinced it had to become a dress - and she was right. 

The pattern instructions are fabulous and I didn't deviate except to add the skirt lining, french seams where possible, and to deal with fitting issues. 

I took the straps in a 3", sewed 1"seam allowances on the side seams. Even so, the dress was looking very blousy and loose around the waist seam. I had the genius (read major quick fix) idea to add 1/4"elastic around the waist to cinch in the waist line and just embrace the bodice blouseyness.

I adore how this dress turned out, imperfections and all. it feel technically wrong to have added elastic, but on the other hand if it works, how can it be wrong? I've never sewn a dress with a side seam zipper before and it went in quite easily but definitely made the dress harder to adjust for fit.

The dress is a little more revealing than I'm used to. I don't know when it happened but my preferences for modesty have definitely changed over the last few years. I tacked down the wrap to front to prevent any mishaps. I'm not, however, phased by exposed bra straps.

I wore this dress out to a family dinner followed by cake at our apartment. Tim organised the most delicious Crepe Cake for me. I freaking love my birthday and I love having a fuss made over me once a year. I had an absolutely amazing day with Tim yesterday starting with pancakes and ending in pork ribs. I also received amazing gifts from my incredibly generous family and friends. What a fabulous way to start my 27th year! 

Sew Cheap November Free Pattern Review: Ludivine Robe

This month I struggled to get motivated to make up my Sew Cheap Make and Pattern Review. I finally decided on the Republique Du Chiffon Ludivine Robe. I downloaded the pattern last weekend and sewed up the dress with a few days to spare. I went back on to the blog post yesterday and could no longer find the download buttons and today the post doesn't appear at all. I hope that the post and downloadable pattern will return soon. I'm sorry that the pattern I'm reviewing may in fact no longer be available

The Ludivine Robe is a shift dress with a relaxed fit, with multiple sizes, front and back square corner seams, sleeves and front pockets. Some gorgeous versions have been made up.  I went with two fabrics from The Cloth Shop. A pinkish spotty rayon and a black chambray. The chambray was amazing to sew and top stitch. The rayon stretched out of shape, slipped around, top stitched poorly, and wrinkled like a piece of paper being scrunched in a ball. But it is so pretty and soft.

The pattern, instructions and blog post are all in french. I used Google translator to figure out what size to sew, that I needed to add seam allowances, and the general process of instructions. I cut a size 38, graded into a 40 from the waist down. I mostly sewed the dress following my own process. For the pocket, I finished the upper seam, attached the bottom of the pocket right side facing and the folded the pocket up into the correct position and basted the sides down.

To construct the dress you need to sew four corner seams. I've sewn quite a few of these before, but the rayon did not place nice. I started with the front corners and they are much messier than the back corners. After the first one I interfaced the three other corners to help stabilize the rayon. I attached the sleeves only to find that the arm hole was a little tight and the sleeves were way too tight, I ended up omitting the sleeves all together  and just cutting some thick binding for arm hole cuffs. I also had to take out the seams from my bottom down on the side, front and back seams so that walking was a possibility.

While I think this dress is super cute it really isn't a great fit. It gapes at the front and back neckline. That, coupled with my poor sewing, means that I almost didn't finish the dress. I'm glad I did though, as there is something about it I really love. The pockets and design lines are very sweet. I hope to make another version of this dress after making some serious fit adjustments. 

I would recommend this pattern for an advanced beginner who is comfortable adding seam allowances, sewing corner seams and doesn't require sewing instructions (unless you happen to speak French).
If you like this post, check out my Sew Cheap: Top Tips Sew Cheap: Free Patterns and previous Sew Cheap posts.