Casual Kielo

I’ve had about six weeks away from sewing, and frankly I lost my sew-jo.  I knew I wanted to sew something, I just didn’t know what.. I’ve also set myself a task to only buy ethically sourced fabric (more of that in a future blog post), so I knew I needed to use something from my fabric stash. Inspired by Rumana’s (@thelittlepomegranate) plethora of beautiful Kielo Wrap Dresses, I decided to give the pattern another go…

The Pattern.

The Kielo is a wrap dress pattern from the amazing ladies at Named Patterns.  It’s designed for fabrics with a bit of stretch, and I love how versatile it is – you can tie it in the front or the back, loose or tight, creating multiple different looks.

I’ve made the Kielo before, but in a woven, non-stretch fabric which didn’t work brilliantly (I eventually donated it to a charity shop).  The main reason wasn’t necessarily the woven fabric, it was more than I cropped the length to above the knee; I found, with this pattern, it’s really difficult to get a straight hem if you chop it at a shorter length because of the wrap nature of the dress.

So, for my second try, I went for a midi length and added on sleeves, using the the free add-on pattern.  The dress is designed to be maxi, with a vent in the pattern; that being said, I’m really into midi lengths at the moment, and thought I’d get more wear out of it that way, so I decided to chop off a few inches and omit the vent.

The Fabric.

As I said, I’m trying to think about my sewing in a more sustainable way, and my first step is to shop my stash.  I had a grey bamboo jersey that I bought from What Katie Sews’ Instagram destash, which I thought would work perfectly for the sleeved version – Named Patterns suggest you to use “a knit fabric with approximately 50% stretch”.  It has great drape and it ended up working really well for the Kielo.

The Make.

All in all, this is a pretty quick make.  The Kielo (with sleeves) only has 4 pattern pieces:

  • Front (cut on the fold)
  • Back (cut 2)
  • Ties (cut 2)
  • Sleeves (cut 2)

I made the UK size 10, without any adjustments and it fits perfectly (I guess aided by the wrap/jersey nature of the dress). I think the most fiddly bit about the Kielo is the pattern adjustments you have to make when you add the sleeves.  The Kielo wasn’t originally planned to have sleeves, so you have to make some adjustments to the armholes.  That being said, Named have some pretty clear instructions for how to adjust the main Kielo dress.

I serged the whole dress, apart from the darts and the hems.  For the darts, I used a straight stitch (after a bit of trial and error); despite being a stretch fabric, a slightly lengthened straight stitch seemed to have the best results. Given that there won’t be much strain or stretch on those darts, I thought it was worth the risk.

For the hem, I used a small zigzag stitch; I realised I lost my beloved Heat-n-Bond soft stretch tape in my many recent flat moves (sob!) so in a ploy to get the dress finished, I tried out using strips of stretch interfacing instead and surprisingly it worked really well (no wavy hem!).  That’s not to say I won’t be buying another lot of Heat-n-Bond, but it’s a good alternative if you’re in a bind!

Verdict.

Overall, I’m SO pleased with how this turned out.  I like it so much more than my previous woven Kielo – the midi length works so much better and it’s much more my style.  Plus, the multiple ways you can style the Kielo is genius – the fact you can tie it a bit looser if you have a bit lunch is a big bonus 🙂 I can’t wait to make another version.

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Quirky Culottes

The recent heatwave we’ve had in London has left me with quite the conundrum.. it’s been boiling on the tube, but ice cold in my air conditioned office. As such, I want the best of both worlds in my wardrobe – something that’ll keep me warm in the air con but cool in the stifling heat. Impossible surely? Well I thought I’d try out a couple of recent fashion trends to see if I could sew my way out of this conundrum.

I’ve already tried midi skirts, which have been pretty successful – you can read about my self drafted stripy midi skirt here. Now, I’m trying out culottes, with mixed success..!

The Pattern.

I considered various culottes patterns that have popped up in the indie sewing space in the past few months.

The Megan Nielsen Flint pants look great; I really like the waistband/pleat detail, but ultimately decided they were too wide legged.

Also, the Winslow culottes from Helen’s closet; I enjoyed Helen’s instructions for the Suki kimono, which bodes well, but not sure about how wide the legs are.

I also thought about the Ninni culottes from Named Patterns, but not 100% sold on the elastic waist.

I ultimately (see what I did there? I’m hilarious) decided on the Ultimate Culottes from Sew Over It. I like their pattern instructions, they looked high waisted, they had a zip (no elastic) and not too wide in the leg.

The Fabric.

I opted for some light blue cupro I had in my stash (from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn), for a couple of reasons. Practically, it was the only suitable fabric I had in my stash where I had enough for the pattern (at least 2.5 metres). Also, it had enough weight for a trouser and I didn’t want something sheer. Plus, I’d never sewn with cupro and wanted to see what it was like; I will say, it was great to sew with and I’d definitely look to use it again in the future.

However, I’m not 100% convinced by the colour. I like that it emulates washed denim, but I prefer darker colours on my bottom half where I’m slightly bigger… then again, it does me good to sew and wear something other than black or navy..!

The Make.

It’s been about 15 years since I sewed trousers, and back then I was pretty new to sewing clothes, and didn’t have any curves whatsoever. The latter made the process somewhat easier!

I think the reason why I’ve shied away from sewing trousers for so long is because I feared the challenge of fit. I’m pretty lucky in that I generally don’t have to make many fit adjustments to patterns to get them to work for me – my bust and waist usually fit into the same size. However the hip is usually at least one or two sizes bigger. I’ve made my peace with that – it’s been that way for years, I might as well get used to it! It’s why we sew, right? But it also means that fitting close-fitting trousers or skirts is a bit of a pain – you don’t want to grade out too much, lest it’s suddenly way too bulbous around the hips. But you also don’t want to go too small and risk not fitting into it. Decisions, decisions!

The Ultimate culottes were a good way of dipping my toe back into the world of sewing trousers. Realistically you just have to get the waistband and darts right and you’re home and dry. I will say, I’m pretty pleased with the waist fitting, although it sits a little high on me. If I were to make these again, I’d choose the other view and omit the waistband altogether.

However, a few things I didn’t quite get right with this make…

The invisible zip on the side seams doesn’t quite sit flat at the bottom, which bothers me… but not enough to undo it.

Culottes before their surgery..!

Also, I hacked off a load of the width from the bottom of the trousers in the end. I tried them on once they were all sewn up and just thought, ‘Nah, this isn’t for me’. The legs were too wide and made me look a bit clown like. I’m not saying that’s true of all culottes – I love the look on other people, but on me I just felt they made me look wider than I am. Not ideal.

However, after effectively turning them into a wide legged cropped trousers (hence ‘Quirky Culottes’ since I’m not sure they count as culottes anymore..!), I’m much happier with them and I’ve worn them to the office a few times.

The pattern itself is really lovely, and as with other Sew Over It patterns, the instructions are great.

Verdict.

Do these keep me warm in the air con and cool in the heat? Yes, for sure!

Would I make them again? Maybe… but I’d remove the waistband and hack the width again. I feel like if I’m doing that, I should just find a wide legged trouser pattern instead..!

Am I convinced by the culotte trend? Totally, but just not on me! Oh well, at least I tried. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone every once in a while!

Epic Embroidery

What do you do when your film loving flatmate has a birthday and you sew?  Of course you embroider their fave film quotes onto a hoop – what else?  So how did I go about it?

Step 1.

Create a list of their fave films.  From that identify a list of hilarious film quotes aided by other flatmate.  Note – you want quotes with a range of lengths, in order to fill the round hoop (longest goes in the centre, shortest at top and bottom – you get the idea).

I ended up with:

  • Good Holiday?  Wild Child 
  • It started with a chair.  Juno 
  • Is that your given name?  Ladybird 
  • Drippy’s in the freezer.  Wild Child
  • Have bottom the size of… Brazil.  Bridget Jones’ Diary  
  • Are you saying it’s a ‘no go’, or ‘no, go’?  Why him?  
  • We found them in the penny saver next to the exotic birds.  Juno 
  • No caviar for me thanks, never did like much.  Titanic
  • Now I’m not gonna do that because we’ve already paid the DJ.  Mean Girls
  • I didn’t think he had it in him.  Juno 
  • She has more marshmallows than I do.  The Holiday
  • You smell like a baby prostitute.  Mean Girls
  • Just stir it Una.  Bridget Jones’ Diary
  • Say crack again.  Mean Girls
  • A wee bob.  Wild Child

Step 2.

Arrange your quotes in length order.

Step 3. 

Put some fabric in your hoop – I chose some blue cotton I had in my stash.  Make sure the hoop is tightened as much as possible.

Step 4.  

Find the centre of the hoop.  Draw a line a bit above and a bit below (I used pencil).  Then pick one of your longest quotes, draw it on your fabric in between the lines and start embroidering!

For my first quote, I went for ‘No caviar for me thanks, never did like it much’ (Leo di Caprio in Titanic – but I didn’t have to tell you that..).

For the quotes, I used a simple running stitch.

In between the quotes I used different lines of embroidery to add a bit of intrigue.

Step 5. 

Add quotes above and below the middle quote.  Keep adding quotes until you’ve covered the whole hoop.

Step 6.

Cover the back of the hoop.  I’m lazy so usually just superglue a circle of felt onto the hoop at the back.

And there you have it… a completed embroidery hoop 🙂

Ogden Omnibus

This summer has been sweltering in London – but us Brits haven’t mentioned it all, have we..?  I suddenly found myself with very little summer appropriate clothing and turned to the trusty Ogden cami pattern to solve my dilemma.  In one weekend alone, I made 5 Ogdens. Can you believe?  Here’s a quick round-up, showing how versatile the Ogden can be:

1. Ogden/Ida Swap 

Jen (@jenlegg4) and Laura (@cottonreelstudio) ran a great sewing exchange challenge this year in the Ogden/Ida swap.  You’re paired up with another sewist somewhere in the world and you have to make them an Ogden cami or an Ida clutch or both.  I opted for both, and my person to sew for was Laura herself.  Noting her love for patterned fabric, I decided to sew up an Ogden in some navy blue fabric with white birds all over it.

Photo courtesy of @cottonreelstudio (because I stupidly forgot to take a picture before sending!)

Now one of my least favourite parts of an Ogden is under-stitching the facing – it’s just so fiddly.  To over come this, sometimes I just stitch the main fabric and the facing together, about 1 cm from the neckline.  For Laura’s version, I decided to use a fancy embroidery stitch on my Bernina and I really like how it turned out.

Photo courtesy of @cottonreelstudio (because I stupidly forgot to take a picture before sending!)

The Ida I also sent Laura was made out of suede my aunt gave me, and the lining (also patterned birds) was a remnant from one of my favourite fabric shops (Madjaks in Shere).  The zip was inherited from my grandmother (a master seamstress in her day), so it cost me next to nothing to put this together.

In return I received from Merri a beautiful Ogden in a tie dye like print (so very me!).

She also sent a beautiful Ida with a cute bee on the zip, and some handmade earrings – cannot get over how lovely these are.

2. Ogden dress hack 1.0

I had some fabric left over from the Ogden I made Laura as part of the Ogden swap, so decided to make myself a dress version.  Now, listen, this is a lesson in a) pre-washing fabric, and b) allowing for a bit more length lest your make become indecent in retrospect.

I now wear this dress as a nightie, and honestly, I needed more nightwear suitable for the hot weather, so it’s a welcome addition to my wardrobe.  I also had a tiny bit of the fabric left after that and made a cropped version of the Ogden to go with high waisted jeans/skirts.

3. Ogden dress hack 2.0 

I love an Instagram destash; (fellow millennials ignore this section, but for the sake of my dear mum eventually reading this..) this typically involves a sewist selling their spare fabric on Instagram to others who might get better use of it.  To me, it’s a great, sustainable way of sourcing fabric – you’re not creating additional demand for fabric, and you’re taking it off another sewist’s hands.

The fabric for this Ogden dress fabric came from @timetosew ‘s destash account (@makeyourstashdestash) on Instagram, and cost just £5 plus postage (the fiver went to charity too!).

I got a metre of Lady McElroy cotton, and I decided to see if I could squeeze out an Ogden dress.  Honestly – a cotton dress was all I wanted to be wearing this summer!  I really like how this turned out – I kept it midi length, and always wear a belt with it to cinch it in.

4. Ogden dress hack 3.0 

My final ogden dress hack used an elasticated waist (to eradicate the need for a belt).  I used a remnant I found at the aforementioned Madjaks, which ended up being just a metre of cotton printed with daisies.

I cut a bodice, finishing on the lengthen/shorten line.  I then cut two rectangles out of the remaining fabric I had, sewed the two together and created a channel to thread the elastic through.

I love how this turned out, but I did have to be pretty careful about the placement of the daisies…!

5. Silk Cami + Old Zara Top = A+ Ogden 

A sewing fail of mine that hasn’t been documented on the blog was a white Sew Over It Silk Cami I made earlier this year.  Its problem was that the fabric was quite sheer so you could see the facing underneath – not ideal.

Failed Silk Cami

I also had a RTW top from Zara that I bought online in the sale a few years ago and have never worn, for a couple of reasons: 1) it’s sheer, and 2) it’s too big.

RTW Zara top

I decided to see if I could combine these two fails into something usable.  Given the little fabric I had to play with, I settled on the trusty Ogden – surprise, surprise!

The Silk Cami ended up being the underlayer (omitting facings) and the lace from the Zara top went over the top.  I added ribbons for ties, because I didn’t have enough of the fabric to make my own.

I really love how this turned out, and I’ve had so much more wear out of it than the other two garments combined!

6. 2 x Refashioned Ogdens

My flatmate had a clear out of her wardrobe before we moved into our current place (last September!) and I’ve only just got round to refashioning a couple of skirts she decided weren’t for her anymore.

Both were short skirts with multiple rows of elasticated gathers.  I unpicked the rows of gathers during a viewing of Iron Man, and used the Ogden pattern to refashion them into more wearable tops.  I didn’t quite have enough of the main fabric for the facings, so I used a contrasting fabric I had in my stash.

The main lesson I’ve learnt with the Ogden over the past few months – if you don’t think you have enough fabric, you probably do if you make the facing or straps from a different, complementary material.  I kept the original hem from the skirts for ease (read: laziness).  I also used some ribbon for the straps because a) it was easier, and b) I didn’t quite have enough of the main fabric to make my own straps.

Verdict. 

Overall that makes 8  Ogden camis made by me (and one made for me).  Wow, I definitely love this pattern.  It’s so versatile and quick to sew, I’d definitely recommend it.  My next challenge is to try and widen the straps to make it work appropriate!

Nifty Nikko

Prepare yourself for a tale of two Nikko tops!  Really this blog post should be called ‘Nippy Nikko’ given how quick these two tops were to make, but I feared it might have alternative connotations… Anyway!

The Pattern.

Ever since True Bias released the Nikko top, I’ve been itching to try it.  Eventually I want to make the midi length dress with slits up the sides, but to tip my toes into the Nikko top waters (where is this analogy going…?) I thought I’d give the sleeveless top version a go (View A).  For this version, there are only 5 pattern pieces (Front, Back, Neckband and 2 x arm facings) so it couldn’t be simpler.

I sewed up a straight size 0, ignoring my hip measurement as I was only doing the top version, and it does fit really well.  I cut off a couple of inches from the bottom to make the most of the limited fabric I had, and in retrospect, I wouldn’t haven’t wanted it as long as the original pattern anyway.

The Fabric.

The fabric is a grey rib knit I bought as part of Sarah’s (AKA Like Sew Amazing) destash a few months ago.  It cost just £4 (plus postage), quite a steal.  The fabric didn’t quite measure a metre, but I did end up managing to cut two (yes two!) Nikko tops out of the fabric (!).  The first was the Nikko top as intended, the second omitted the neckband and instead added a neck facing (as with the arm facing).

Nikko hack with neck facing instead of neckband

The fabric itself is really stretchy and relatively lightweight, which I think makes it really perfect for the Nikko top.  When I make the dress version, I think I’ll pick something with a bit more weight to it so that it hangs properly and gives more coverage.

The Make.

As I said, the Nikko top is such a quick make – all in all, I think it took a morning to sew it up, and maybe add on an extra hour for the cutting I did the night before.  I made two versions, one as originally intended and one hacked to omit the neckband.

The construction of the Nikko is relatively simple, but it also helps to follow the sew along if you get stuck.  That being said, the instructions are written for the top to be sewn only on a sewing machine and don’t really give any hints or tips if you’re primarily using an overlocker.  For instance, the first step is to sew stabilising elastic, sandwiched between the shoulder seams, using a zig zag stitch.  However, on an overlocker I found this pretty tricky to master; the elastic moves about so much, you obviously can’t use pins and overlock over them, and wonder clips didn’t really grip onto the elastic very well.  In retrospect, I do think that I could have zig zagged (or overlocked) the elastic to the front (or back) at the shoulder, then attached the back on top of this (if that makes sense!).  Other than that, it’s pretty simple to adapt the instructions to overlocking, but it does take a bit of thought.

One issue I did encounter with the original Nikko top was that the neckband is pretty small, and it’s a bit of a tight squeeze to get through!  In fact, when I first tried it on, my overlocking stitches ripped… didn’t realise I had a big head..!  Now, I take a lot more care putting this top on and taking it off!

The hacked version of the Nikko I made afterwards with the remaining material overcomes the neckband issue, as I slightly lowered the neckline and added a neck facing in the same way the arm facings are attached.  I actually really like how this turned out, and I’m so impressed I managed to get two Nikko tops out of such a small piece of material!

Finally, let’s talk about hems.  I’ve written before about my hate of hemming (it’s never straight, something always goes wrong, with knits they’re wobbly… you get the picture.. I won’t go on).  In preparation for this make, I decided to invest in some Soft Stretch from Heat n Bond, which Kelli from True Bias and Allie from Indie Sew both recommend.  In particular, Allie’s insta story highlight showing how you use it is really helpful (go check it out if you’re thinking about using it).  Honestly, this stuff is wondrous.  If you’ve had a problem with a wavy hem when sewing knits, add this to your sewing arsenal.  In effect, it glues your hem in place for you to sew on top (I used my lightning stitch), whilst also maintaining the stretch in the fabric. Ge-ni-us.

Verdict.

All in all, I love this top.  It’s so quick to sew but ends up looking like a really professional make.  I also love that it fits me so well without any adjustments, and it also used so little fabric!  I’ll definitely be making more of these, in particular (as I mentioned) a midi length dress version and some long sleeved top versions (I can see them working perfectly for a skiing wardrobe!).  Go buy this pattern, you won’t regret it.

Serene Seren

I’m not usually one to impulse buy new indie patterns (unless there’s a promo discount…), because frankly they’re pretty pricey and I like to see how other people make up the patterns before I take the plunge!  However, the Seren dress, recently released by Tilly and the Buttons, was the exception to this rule.

The yellow, midi-length version with a flounce is just the perfect summer dress and given the weather we’re having in London at the moment, I thought I’d treat myself to the printed pattern (I can’t believe it either).

The Pattern.

The Seren is a pretty versatile pattern, with a few different versions to pick from.  It comes in two lengths (knee and midi length), and I picked the midi-length.  It also comes in various bodice types (standard, tie front and with flounce); ever since the Seren was released, I’ve been wanting to make the flounce version so I opted for that one.  If I’m being honest, I just wanted to copy the Seren on the front of pattern envelope, but if I’m realistic, yellow is not my colour!

I’m definitely going to making the other bodice versions, and maybe even a skirt hack.  That’s something I love about Big 4 patterns – the multiple views – so when indie patterns manage to do this too, I feel like it’s worth spending the money.  Closet Case Patterns are a great example of this; Heather Lou always gives several views in her patterns and it feels like you’re getting good bang for your buck.

The Fabric.

I wanted something floaty to emulate the yellow sample Seren you see on the front of the pattern envelope and ended up using some viscose in my stash, bought from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn.  It’s black and yellowy-cream with tiny flowers – very summery and it’s got great drape.

For the midi-length dress, they say you need 2.5 metres of fabric (150cm wide) – I managed to make Size 2 out of 2 metres.  That being said, it was a bit of a jigsaw and I think if you were making any size above 2, you’d probably need the full 2.5m. If I were to make the flounce version again, I’d definitely pick a double sided fabric – mine isn’t, and you can see the wrong side of the fabric on the folds of the flounce!  Not the end of the world, but not perfect either!

The Make.

Overall, this dress took about a day to make (though I was distracted by the joy that is Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool and my new addition, This Is Us, so no doubt you could make it in less time..!).

I had a bit of a conundrum on measurements… It’s quite a fitted dress, so I didn’t want too much ease.  My measurements (for reference 80 – 65 – 95) suggested I should make a Size 2 on bust and waist, and a size 3/4 on the hip.  I decided there was plenty of ease in the hip to risk a straight Size 2 without grading between sizes. However, in retrospect I might be tempted to size down in the bodice, since it fits perfectly around the waist but a little wide in the bust whereas the hip is fine given the not very fitted skirt.

The instructions – like all other Tilly patterns – are second to none.  One thing I would say to pay attention to is the stay stitching.  It’s something a lot of us (me definitely included!) skip to save time, but for this I’d say it’s very necessary.  I stay stitched the diagonals on the skirt panels but must have stretched the fabric as I sewed, because I ended up with a massively uneven hem at the end.  Something to bear in my next time!

One thing I didn’t like about the Seren is the hundreds of buttonholes.  Okay hundreds is a slight exaggeration, I ended up with 11. And yes, I knew the dress had buttons and buttonholes when I purchased it but it was one of the features I really liked.  Oof, but when your machine decides to jam mid-buttonholes, that may be up there with one of the worst feelings you can have as a sewist!  And it happened to me three times.  Not cool Bernina, not cool.

Verdict.

Overall, this dress was a dream to sew, although I might slightly adjust the fit next time.  I’ve got a few ideas for hacks in mind, in particular a skirt with a button down front and slits in the side… But I’m trying to figure out if it will transition into my autumn/winter wardrobe as well (not that this heatwave looks like it will EVER end).  Certainly something I’ll be pondering on the tube over the next week 🙂

Blue Bruna

I’m a big fan of sewing magazines.. I started out on the ones with free Big 4 paper patterns (Sew Magazine, Love Sewing – you know the type), but I’m now veering towards those with overlapping patterns you have to trace off and initially cause a bit of a heart attack to look at (I’m looking at you Burda…).

A couple examples of these (and shout if you know of any others) are the aforementioned (and frequently hard to source) Burda Style, and La Maison Victor, which recently launched an English language version.  These two, to me, represent a more modern and slightly edgier style and even if I don’t end up making many of the patterns (see aforementioned overlapping pattern line heart attack), they are an endless source of inspiration.  Recently, I spotted the Bruna blouse in La Maison Victor and knew I had to give it a go.. So…

The Pattern.

The Bruna blouse is a simple boxy short sleeved shirt.  It’s very similar to the Libby shirt from Sew Over It, which I had my eye on and thought I’d try the Bruna first since I already had the pattern.  Since LMV offer fewer patterns in their magazine, there’s fewer scary overlapping lines to trace from, so it’s pretty quick to put the pattern together.

I decided to leave off the pocket, mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to a) cut it out (yes I’m that lazy) and b) pattern match.  I think I actually prefer it without too, so that’s a happy accident (or am I just trying to convince myself that I meant to not cut out that pocket.. and I didn’t just forget…).

The Fabric.

The fabric was a remnant from Sew Over It, which I bought when I strayed south of the river (can you believe it) and accidentally (ahem.. not so much) found myself in the vicinity of their Clapham shop.  I had barely a metre, and it was  a bit of a jigsaw to get all of the pieces cut out, but I got there in the end.

The fabric itself is a bit of a mystery.. they’ve sold out of it on the website, so I can’t confirm exactly what it is but if I was a gambling woman (really not, for the record) I’d say a light weight crepe.. Now, I must say, this fabric probably wasn’t my best impulse buy in hindsight.  It’s – for sure – a synthetic material (meh – I knew that when I bought it) but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s polyester… Let’s just say it’s been really unpleasant to wear in the heat wave we’ve been having recently! You live and learn… I’m now on a bit of a ‘try to buy natural fibres where possible’ stint, but who knows how long that will last.  We all know a nice rayon will come along and I’ll have broken my all-natural pledge.  Oh well… at least I’m a realist.

The Make.

This was a pretty quick make, all in all probably just over half a day’s worth of cutting and stitching.  I cut my size based on my measurements and whilst the style is supposed to be boxy, and I think it ended up being a little big on me.

This was my first time using a LMV pattern and I ended up veering away from the written instructions.. It was strange to me that the pattern has a front facing, but no back facing.. It’s crying out for a back facing, and I can’t work out why they didn’t have one.

I used french seams where possible, and zig-zagged where else (sadly without my overlocker for this make).

Verdict. 

I like how this shirt turned out, but I regret my fabric choice given how hot this summer has turned out!

I’m also not 100% convinced on some of the construction techniques used in the Bruna.. if I had my time again and I wasn’t able to buy the magazine, I think I’d try the Sew Over It Libby shirt or the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pyjama top; that’s for three reasons:

1. To buy the Bruna by itself is apparently 35 euro (?!) whereas the Libby is £7.50 and the Carolyn is $14.00

2. I’m not even sure you can buy the Bruna in English, so you might need to be proficient in Dutch/French/Germany (or trust Google translate!), and

3. I’ve used SOI and CCP before multiple times and their construction techniques are second to none.  If I’m committing money to something I might make multiple times, I’d go with the safe bet (see I told you I wasn’t a gambling woman).

Summer Stripes

Honestly, what does one wear to work when it’s 24 degrees plus outside but the air con is on full blast in the office?  It’s a question I’ve been pondering for a few weeks now… You don’t want heavy trousers or dark tights on the London Underground in the summer, but then you don’t want a short skirt in a freezing cold office..  Quite the conundrum.

After a few weeks thought, I’m starting to think culottes and midi length skirts may be the answer. However, I’ve realised I have shockingly few of both of those in my wardrobe, so here goes Project Iz Makes Summer Clothes 2018 (name tbc)!

The Pattern.

For the first time, I thought I’d draft myself a skirt, without a pattern.  I knew I wanted to make a gathered skirt and really that’s only a rectangle of fabric.  However, I see this dress as a mash up of the Deer and Doe Myosotis Dress and the By Hand London Orsola Skirt

For guidance on width, I used the Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress skirt pattern piece but lengthened it a good four inches.  Then for the waist tie, I cut a piece about 3 inches wide and as long as the piece of fabric I had left (about 1.5 metres).

The Fabric. 

I had some left over black and white stripey material from my Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress.  It was really lovely to work with the first time so I thought I’d use up what I had left.  My best guess is it’s a viscose/polyester blend of some sort.

It’s a little sheer, so (as with my Myosotis) I think I’ll have to wear a slip with it. It’s also really floaty so I’m fairly concerned about how it’ll work on the tube… am I going to have a Marilyn moment?!  Highly likely.

The Make.

A really quick make, I’m now fully converted to the self-drafted skirt! My first step was to cut two rectangles for the front and back skirt pieces (using the Myosotis skirt pattern piece for guidance on the width).  I then cut a length of material for the waist band.

In terms of construction, I first sewed up both side-seams, leaving space for a lapped zip on one side.  Honestly, I didn’t have a black zip in my stash so I ended up using a green one – it’s a little noticeable but I was on a sewing-roll and couldn’t be bothered to go out to buy another zip!

I then inserted the zip leaving about an inch spare at the top of the side seam.  My next step was to gather the skirt front and back, which I did using the dental floss method (my fave of all gathering methods – it’s a dream).  I then measured my waist (65cm), worked out where the middle point of the waist band piece was and then marked 33cm on each side of the mid-point with a point.

I attached the gathered skirt to the waistband at these markers and sewed the two together.  I then took a leaf out of the By Hand London Orsola skirt book, and sewed the ends of the ties right sides together and pulled them the right way out.  I sewed the middle waist band to the skirt, which I slip-stitched (I didn’t have quite enough material left to stitch-in-the-ditch). Then, all that was left was to hem it; I took a couple of inches off the length and used a two cm hem (1cm turned under).  Despite being such a floaty material, it was surprisingly easy to iron and hem.

Verdict.

Overall, I’m really pleased with how this turned out.  It was a pretty quick make (about an afternoon) and I really think that it will serve its purpose of being summery but also appropriate for an air-conditioned office.  Only time will tell!  All that being said, I’ve realised I’ve made a skirt that doesn’t go with any of the tops I already own.. Well done Iz.  Oh well, that’ll be my next make 🙂

Wondrous Wrap Dress

The wonder of sewing is that when you have a special event to go to, you don’t have to trawl the shops looking for that perfect dress – you can make your own!  I recently graduated with an MSc at Trinity College Dublin, so of course I needed a new dress for the occasion!  I love, love, love the By Hand London Orsola skirt I’ve made previously and have been meaning to make the dress version for a while now, so this seemed like the perfect occasion.

The Pattern.

As I said, I’ve made the Orsola skirt before, which I loved.  This time I made the dress version, but opting for the straight hem (instead of the scallop).

I cut the size 8 at the bust and the waist, but graduated out to a 10 at the hip.  However, I think I should have cut a size 6 at the bust as the darts weren’t quite right on me.  I ended up altering the bust darts so they’d finish about an inch higher.  I’m not 100% happy with how they turned out but they’re much better than how they were originally.  It’s worth noting I did do a toile of the bodice to check the fit.  I used a light-weight fabric with a polka dot pattern, and the fit straight from the pattern seemed alright on the toile.  However when I cut it in my plain black fabric, the issues were apparent and I think the dotted pattern had veiled them.  A lesson in using a fabric as similar to your real fabric as possible!

Before cutting, I also took a couple of inches off the length of the pattern.  The skirt I made previously is a midi length on me and I wanted this dress to finish just above the knee.  Now, with most dresses, I tend to shorten the length at the hemline once I’ve sewn everything else because I’ll have a better idea of what it’s going to look like and the skirt length I want.  However, because of the curved wrap back of the skirt on the Orsola, it’s  difficult to shorten the length once you’ve sewn the dress.  That means you need to shorten the pattern before cutting – I think there are shorten/lengthen lines, I effectively just shortened the pattern by a couple of inches on all skirt pieces and the curved back skirt facing.

The Fabric.

Trinity stipulate you must wear either black or white to graduate.  However I think you’ve got to be a brave person to commit to a white dress (apart from your wedding day of course!)  –  you eat spaghetti once and it’s ruined forever.  That left me with black, and I wanted something drapey and not too shiny.  I ended up buying three metres of a double gauze type fabric from a shop on Goldhawk Road.  Really easy to sew with and it has a lovely, ‘cross-hatched’ texture – however it is a little sheer (keep reading to hear how I lined it!).

Something to note, By Hand London say you need 3.2 metres of 150cm wide fabric for the dress version.  I got 3 metres because I knew I was going to shorten the skirt (and I’m cheap – sue me!).  However, I didn’t realise how sheer the fabric was until I got it home, at which point I realised I need to fully line the skirt as well as the bodice (By Hand doesn’t include a skirt lining in their fabric allowances).  Basically what I’m saying is, if I hadn’t needed to line my skirt, I could have easily got an Orsola dress and an Orsola skirt out of the 3 metres of fabric I bought, with some left over!

I had the same issue with my By Hand London Rumana coat – so much fabric left over!  I think it’s because (unlike Big 4 pattern companies) By Hand don’t calculate fabric requirements based on the size you’re cutting.  All in all, my advice is if you’re picking a pricey fabric, look at the pattern pieces before buying and calculate your fabric requirements based on that.

The Make. 

Although it looks a little complicated, this dress really is very simple to sew.  For the bodice, as I said, I had a few fitting issues but in reality I probably should have sized down.  I also added a two inch wide strip of fusible interfacing to the back diagonal of the bodice lining.  When I initially tried on the dress, the back gaped a bit, showing my bra – not a good look for a graduation ceremony!  I’ve read other people had similar problems, so I added some interfacing which gave the back bodice a bit more structure.  It’s not quite perfect but it seemed to do the trick.

In terms of the waist tie, before I turned it through I actually overlocked the seams inside instead of grading them.  Now, I had sheer fabric which frayed like you wouldn’t believe.  One issue I’ve had with my Orsola skirt waist lie is that the seams aren’t finished on the inside, and the linen is a relatively open weave – that means that they’re starting to unravel a bit and it’s looking a bit messy.  Sure, overlocking the seams and not grading them means that its a bit more bulky but because the fabric is very lightweight it’s not really an issue.  The way I saw it was the waist tie gets a lot strain, especially if you want a snug fit – for longevity I decided an overlocked seam was the way to go!

Finally, as I said I used quite a sheer fabric so I need to line the skirt as well as the bodice.  With some advice from the lovely fellow sewists on Instagram (@grosgraingreen I’m looking at you – thank you!) and the By Hand London ladies themselves, I decided to underline the skirt.  This mean that I effectively made two skirts: I sewed the darts on each of the two front pieces and the four back wrap pieces. I then created two versions of the skirt – sewing the skirt front to the two skirt back pieces at the side seams.  I then sewed the two full skirts together wrong sides together, along the waistline and the hemline so that I knew everything was aligned.  Since the skirt was then all one piece, I continued with By Hand’s instructions and sewed it to the skirt facing.  By Hand say to top stitch the skirt facing in place, but I wanted a clean finish so I actually slip stitched the facing to the skirt itself.  Time intensive but certainly worth it!

Overall, underlining was certainly successful.  However, as I was sewing, I pondered whether you could get rid of the facing entirely by creating two separate skirts (as I did), sewing them wrong sides together along the hem and then turning them the right side out.  That way, I think you could actually get a fully reversible Orsola dress?  Something I’d really like to try out in the future!

Verdict. 

A wonderful pattern – it truly is unlike any other Indie (or Big 4) pattern I’ve seen, and creates a really lovely silhouette. Plus there’s no fastenings so it’s actually quite an easy dress to sew.  I’m so pleased with how it turned out, especially the finishing as it’s fully lined and all raw edges are encased.  I’d love to make another Orsola, maybe trying out the fully reversible idea I have to see if it would actually work!

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