Chataigne Shorts (Deer And Doe)

I’m back with my first truly autumn make! As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been taking a much needed break from sewing and blogging whilst attempting to cultivate some sort of balance between all of the competing elements of my life. Fortunately, my version of the Chataigne Shorts from Deer and Doe patterns is something that I finished back in the summer and, now that the weather has turned, I’ve been able to take them out for a spin…

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I actually ordered this pattern way back in June, just a couple of weeks before Deer and Doe announced that they were releasing it as a PDF. Living in the middle of the US has definitely made me appreciate the joy of PDF patterns. Since this pattern shipped from France, got lost en route, and had to be resent after a 30 day wait period, it ended up taking about six weeks for me to actually get the pattern to my door. Not ideal. However, this is certainly one of the risks of ordering internationally and, in future, I’ll definitely be using PDFs where I can! The long and short of this is that, what was originally intended to be a summer make, has ended up becoming part of my autumn wardrobe.

Fortunately, I’m someone who has always preferred wearing shorts in the autumn. Although the 100F heat in Missouri has necessitated that I embrace summer-appropriate clothing, I’m infinitely happier when I can pop on a pair of tights and plenty of layers along with my shorts. I decided to make my version of the Chataigne Shorts in a faux suede (that I bought from Joann’s), mirroring the pair shown on the model in the Deer and Doe photos. Not only does the heaviness of the fabric make these shorts nice and toasty, the colour also provides that perfect neutral tan for a lovely autumnal colour palette.

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This particular shorts pattern drew my attention largely because of the super unique details. The pointed shape of the waistband and the neat little darts add a wonderfully tailored look to the garment. There are also some lovely deep pockets on the front and, as you all know, I’m a massive fan of anything with pockets. They were particularly helpful here because it was below freezing when I was taking these photos!

Construction-wise, none of these details posed much of a problem. I did find that it took a bit of fiddling and multiple attempts to get the point of the waistband to line up perfectly with the crotch seam. In the end, I accepted that it was going to be ever so slightly off centre. My husband couldn’t even see the issue but I’m sure many of you will sympathise with the excessive fixation that can accompany those not-quite-perfect sewing moments. I’m getting better about letting them go but I still often feel like I can’t see anything other than the mistake. Tell me that I’m not alone in this! Aside from the waistband, everything else was pretty simple. The instructions were quite clear and easy-to-follow and the shorts themselves close with an invisible zip attached to the side seam. If you’re familiar with this insertion process, you’re already good to go!

There’s also an added cute detail of pocket flaps on the back of the shorts. Unfortunately not full pockets, but the lack of pocket on the butt really helps the garment to lie flat against the body without any lumps or bumps. I was a fan of this particular addition because it was quick, easy, and looks very sweet!

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Fit-wise, I simply followed my measurements and hoped for the best. It worked out because the shorts fit really nicely and comfortably. The top of the waistband sits at the waist and it is worth bearing in mind when fitting that adding the waistband will shift the shorts upwards quite dramatically. So, before attempting to gauge fit, make sure that your waistband is comfortably sewn in place. Overall, I think that the shape and detailing of the shorts makes for an incredibly flattering look. I particularly loved the length of the pattern. I’m always a bit concerned when buying short because, as wonderfully as they may fit when trying them on in a changing room, you never know whether the dreaded ‘ride up’ will occur when out walking. There’s honestly nothing worse, particularly on a hot and sticky summer day. Both with tights and without, the Chataigne Shorts are the perfect length to prevent this from happening. I feel like I could wear them all day without fear of them riding up my thighs (maybe nobody else actually worries about this, but it’s a major review point for me!).

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I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone in the market for a unique and comfortable pair of shorts. The pattern also comes with an option for a scalloped hem at the bottom of the shorts, if you would prefer this to the cuffed legs. There is also an option for a higher waist! So plenty of choices to suit all styles. I’m very sure that I’ll be making another version of these shorts sometime in the near future. Although I think that the waistband attachment would make this a tough pattern for a beginner, it presents few challenges to sewists with a familiarity with basic techniques and a bit of courage. And, if you’re like me, autumn can actually be the perfect time to whip up some brand new shorts!

Lucia Top (Sew Over It)

You might remember that I posted a few weeks back about my feelings at the end of Me Made May. It was such a great month of working through my handmade wardrobe, but it definitely left me with a sense of the gaps in my makes. I have such a tendency to get carried away by the beauty of vintage dress patterns, throwing myself whole heartedly into creating my own versions of these gorgeous garments. However, I live in a State where the winter and summer weather is pretty extreme and I’m also quite active throughout the day. This means that a vintage wardrobe doesn’t really suit my lifestyle (however much I might want it to be the case). So I set myself the task of interspersing my vintage makes with some more ‘every day’ projects, with a particular focus on separates.

Fortunately, my resolution timed with the release of Sew Over It’s Lucia Top. As soon as I saw the email about the new pattern (I’m in the PDF club so I got an early look!), I knew that I would immediately set about making some versions for myself. It’s a beautiful pattern – perfect for those (relatively few and far between) cooler summer days. I’ve already got a couple of new versions planned but I wanted to show you my first Lucia creation because I’m totally in love with it!

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I won’t lie, I was pretty well sweating buckets whilst I took these photos. It was about 95F outside and really not a jeans/knit top kind of day – but I was super determined to show Lucia to you all! Also, I really wanted to take my Ginger Jeans out for a spin because I’ve been in shorts for weeks and I’m always quite impressed with myself whenever I look at or wear these trousers!

As I mentioned, I made this top in a simple black knit fabric. I hate working with knits but this top is definitely bringing me round to them. The Lucia Top isn’t necessarily a knit project – in fact, the versions pictured on the website look like they’re made from cotton combinations. But I had a specific image in my head for how this top would look and it required taking the leap into the world of knits. I’m actually very glad that I decided to go with knit fabric. The top itself is super flowy (there’s a generous amount of ease in the bodice) but the knit gives it a more fitted feel – particularly when tucked into trousers. I definitely prefer this look to having the top billow out. I think the knit fabric makes the sleeves look super sleek and lovely too!

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The construction process itself wasn’t tough at all. The pattern only comes as a PDF (so if you aren’t a fan of PDFs, you basically have to suck it up on this one). I generally prefer to go with paper patterns to reduce the amount of pre-sewing faff that I have to go through. But Sew Over It PDFs are always pretty easy to put together and don’t usually have any issues with matching up the various pages and pattern pieces, which means it isn’t a standard PDF nightmare!

The top itself came together very quickly. Obviously the most arduous part of the process is adding the ruffle and the elastic. I’ve never used elastic in my sewing before but all of the steps were incredibly clear and well diagrammed. I honestly had no issues whatsoever getting it all to work. Just make sure that you use a small enough safety pin when passing the elastic through the channel that you sew around the neckline – otherwise you’ll find yourself getting stuck at the seams that you have to cross. Speaking from experience, I was lucky that I picked out a multi-size pack of safety pins because only the smallest kind ended up fitting through properly. So don’t use normal sized pins or you’ll end up making yourself very frustrated!

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I honestly can’t remember the last time (if ever) that I wore anything shoulderless. Probably largely because I only bought my first strapless bra last year for my wedding dress. It’s strangely liberating to wear a top with no straps or shoulders – especially in the summer. For those of you who don’t enjoy strapless/shoulderless garments, the top can be quite easily pulled up over your shoulders. You’ll obviously still have a pretty wide neckline but you can definitely sit the top far enough up your shoulders that you could get away with wearing a normal bra (albeit with the straps pushed slightly off to the side). This versatility will also make the top a good one for summer workdays (particularly if you work somewhere with a strong dress code).

Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced sewist, I highly recommend the Lucia Top pattern. It’s so easy and quick to put together! Although you might find yourself facing skills that you haven’t used before, the instructions provided are definitely sufficient to guide you through. I really do think anyone with a sewing machine and a love for ruffles could make a beautiful version of this top!

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As I mentioned at the start of the post, I already have a couple of other versions of the Lucia Top planned. Although I won’t be making separate posts specifically for those tops, they’ll definitely be featured on Sew for Victory as part of other makes and new outfits! So keep an eye out for new versions of Lucia popping up on here in the future. And, in the meantime, be sure to check out the pattern on Sew Over It’s website and share your own versions with me!

1960s Dress (Simplicity 8591)

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I’m so excited to be kicking off June with a brand new vintage-inspired make. It’s been a little while since I last turned my hand to a reproduction vintage pattern (despite an ever increasing stash of these patterns in my sewing cupboard), so this make feels particularly overdue. I’ve had my mind on a version of Simplicity’s 8591 pattern for a while – it’s super fun and flirty, perfect for a floraly summer dress – but couldn’t settle on a fabric. Fortunately, a trip to Joann’s set me in good stead with a beautiful mint green cotton and I was determined to finish May with a new dress under my belt (so to speak). And here she is…

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Sweet and simple. I love this dress so much! I so rarely have any issue with Simplicity patterns and S8591 was no exception. Despite the incident with my serger (we’re only just on speaking terms again), there were really no hiccups with any part of the construction process. Everything came together a treat due Simplicity’s super clear instructions. For some reason, I always panic when I use patterns from major pattern companies (Vogue, McCalls etc.). I’m not sure why – perhaps its the massive instructions sheets that typically come with their patterns. Either way, I’m always incredible intimidated by them. But this fear is usually unwarranted, particularly when I’m working with anything from Simplicity. I really enjoyed the construction of this dress and was able to reinforce a few skills – gathering, making ruffles – along the way!

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Definitely feeling my oats here

Size-wise, I obviously didn’t make a muslin (regular readers of Sew For Victory know that I avoid muslins with a tenacity that would honestly be impressive were it applied constructively elsewhere). As usual, I simply followed the sizing as per my measurements and hoped for the best. In the end, I had to take the bodice in quite a bit. I think I probably could have left it as it was, in which case it would’ve had a pretty generous amount of ease and just looked a little baggy around the waist/bust. But, since I decided to use an invisible zip rather than the standard zipper required by the pattern, it was super easy to take in. I simply basted the zip in and then worked with it until I got the fit just right. Obviously having my mannequin helped a lot with this!

Honestly, though, this fit adjustment wasn’t even slightly challenging. I would probably suggest that anyone trying this pattern might want to make a muslin first (if that floats your boat and, if it doesn’t, welcome to the club!) or perhaps opt for an invisible zip. Working with an invisible zip isn’t problematic at all in this case – there’s a generous amount of allowance of either side of the back bodice, so it’s simply a matter of finding a good fit and inserting the zip as you would normally sew in an invisible zipper (basically, I just ignored the pattern instructions and did my own thing).

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Let’s talk about the sleeve (and ignore my super pink arm – English people shouldn’t be outside in St Louis summer weather). Oh my goodness, is it the cutest feature! When I first started putting the dress together, I was slightly worried that it was looking a bit Victorian. Paired with the very gathered skirt, it definitely has that sort of feel to it. But the length of the sleeves work perfectly with the ruffles and, once the belt is added and the dress is hemmed, the dress instantly takes itself out of the 1800s and into the 1960s.

I’m in love with these ruffles. They’re really easy to add on and, if you work with a medium-weight cotton, they stand out beautifully. I’m obsessed on so many levels and seriously considering adding ruffles to literally every sleeve that I make from now on.

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I also really like the belt. I wasn’t sure if I could be bothered making it – particularly because I knew that I would have to trawl the internet for an appropriate belt buckle. It was definitely a quest trying to find one without a prong that was also the right size and colour. Fortunately, I now know that Etsy is the place to be when it comes to vintage belt buckles. After a bit of searching, I struck gold with this 1930s buckle – perfectly sized and only $8.00. I’m so glad that I decided to make the effort – not least because the belt only took about 30 mins to construct and it really does add to the 1960s vibe of the whole ensemble.

It’s also worth mentioning that this dress works perfectly well without a petticoat. I do have a bit of a problem when it comes to 1950s/1960s silhouettes. I love a circle skirt but I find that, without a petticoat, they can end up making my hips look enormous. The whole thing ends up looking a bit like a deflating balloon. Fortunately, the gathering on this skirt – balanced out by the high neckline and ruffles on the sleeves – helps the dress look amazing, even without a petticoat. This definitely makes me much more likely to wear it out and about!

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What more can I say? This dress is a vintage lover’s dream. I think it may be one of favourite makes to date (I know, I say this every time – but seriously, it’s amazing). I’m thinking it would be perfect for special occasions but could totally see it working for a  summer picnic or a desire to pretend you’re starring opposite Gene Kelly in a Hollywood musical (not that I ever think about this).

Now I’m off to twirl around for a while and practice some seriously sub-par dance moves!

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Vintage Shirt Dress (Sew Over It)

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My second make of Me Made May is here! And while I’m very aware of the fact that I call every new make my favourite, I think the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress might legitimately be one of my favourite patterns of all time. I’ve had it in my stash for ages – I bought it not long after I started sewing in 2015. But, I just never got around to making it. There were really two reasons for my avoidance: (1) I just couldn’t seem to find a fabric that stuck out as being super perfect for a shirt dress; and, (2) I was legitimately concerned about making that many buttonholes look neat and lined up. So I let the pattern gather dust on two separate continents, until I came across what is *definitely* my favourite fabric of all time – the Le Map design by Dear Stella.

All it took was a little Parisian flavour to make this amazing pattern happen. And, now, here’s the finished product….

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How many ways can I express my love for this pattern? I think one of my sewing mantras is fast becoming ‘when in doubt, make a Sew Over It pattern.’ Because they are SO easy to work with. I very rarely have issues with sizing, following instructions, or the fit. The process is just clean from start to finish.

As with my previous encounters with Sew Over It patterns, I used the size guide to determine the sizes I would cut – although I can’t remember which sizes these were. And I made zero alterations to the fit. The resulting fit is perfection. Just the right amount of ease whilst still looking tailored to my body. Just another success story for Sew Over It pattern sizing!

The construction itself posed few issues. I’d decided from the beginning that I wanted to make the version of the Vintage Shirt Dress with sleeves (there is a sleeveless version). I just really love the cuffs and am generally a sleeve gal. If you read my previous mid-construction post, you’ll know I had a problem figuring out the sleeves – the only construction issue that I ended up encountering. I would retype the whole saga here but it’s probably easier if you just follow the link to an explanation of my issues with sorting out the cuffs. Although I definitely think the pattern instructions could’ve been clearer on this point, it wasn’t a tough issue to resolve and I ended up with some super cute cuffs once I figured out the problem!

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Another feature of this pattern that I love is the skirt. I think the little pleats on the front are just adorable. They give the skirt a bit of extra shape and just make the whole dress look even cuter. I’m fortunate that the cotton I used was relatively weighty, which definitely helped to give the skirt a bit of extra structure and encouraged the pleats stand out.

I also needn’t have worried about the buttons. Going in, I was concerned about sewing the buttonholes without having them look wonky or misplaced. I’ve only had one experience sewing multiple buttonholes and that was with my Beignet Skirt a couple of months into my sewing journey. Needless to say, the buttonholes weren’t very well aligned! So I took extra time to make sure that my measurements were correct for each of the buttonholes on the Vintage Shirt Dress. It’s a good idea to experiment with button placement before sewing, just to make sure that you don’t end up with any gaping over the bust. Personally, I just ended up following the button placement as on the pattern and the dress is perfectly closed the whole way down the dress – no gaping at all!

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Another super sweet feature of this pattern is the neckline. I love the collar and lapels! They definitely give the dress its ‘shirty’ feel! In order to achieve a really crisp shape, I ended up using a medium-weight interfacing. This gets attached to the fabric facing and then sewn down the back and front of the dress. The combination of fabric and interfacing has worked incredibly well in this case – once pressed down, there’s been no movement from the lapels or collar. So they’re pretty reliably in place, meaning that I’m not having to constantly reposition them or press them back (which I find is often the case with lapels). So, if you’re thinking about making this pattern, the weight of the interfacing is definitely an important consideration!

Construction-wise, the collar and lapels were actually super simple. I did have a problem with size disparity between the facing and the dress shell. After attaching the iron-on interfacing, I found that it had shrunk the size of the facing slightly. So, when pinning the facing to the dress – specifically the collar – I did find that I had to stretch the facing out a bit in order to get it to fit. This didn’t end up posing much of a problem and the size discrepancy wasn’t especially big, but it’s definitely worth being aware!

I also just want to give a shout out to Sew Over It for the fact that their instructions include mentions of when it’s appropriate to finish your raw edges or seams. I think Sew Over It is the only pattern company I’ve used that does this, and it helps so much! I love that the pattern tells me where/when to serge so I don’t have to debate when it’s most appropriate. It also stops me waiting until the whole garment is together and having to spend hours just serging seams and feeling that life has lost all meaning.

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So, in summary, make this dress! I’m actually debating whether I’ll end up using my new fox fabric to make another version, because I’m so in love with this pattern. I think the whole thing probably came together in about 8ish hours (not including pattern/fabric cutting time) so it’s not too big a time investment either!

I think there are so many amazing things you could do with this pattern: add piping to the front; put ruffles on the ends of the sleeves instead of cuffs; add pockets! Or just make it as it is and you’ll still end up with a super chic dress! I’m really excited to experiment with some more versions of the Vintage Shirt Dress. Definitely the perfect make for a beautiful summer!

 

Ginger Jeans (Closet Case Patterns)

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I’m officially a jeans champion! My foray into the world of trousers is only relatively recent and, before the Ginger Jeans, I had only two pairs under my belt (*pun SO intended*). Before this, trousers were super intimidating to me. I’ve always struggled to buy them because they are either too small for my hips or too big on my waist/thighs. I guess I thought that any attempt at making trousers would revolve around the same difficulties. But with the success of the Tyyni Cigarette trousers and Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers, I started to think that jeans might actually be a possibility. To me, jeans seem like the pinnacle of trouser-based achievement. And, honestly, I would’ve probably avoided making them forever if holes hadn’t started to appear in my favourite store-bought pair!

Fortunately, I’d heard so many good things about the Ginger Jeans pattern that I knew immediately that it was the one I wanted to try. I’m so glad I did, because these jeans are AMAZING!

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Miss Elizabeth Bennet has the tongue of three dogs. (please read in context)

When I committed to making jeans, I knew that I didn’t want to go with conventional denim. So I traipsed around Joann’s for a while, trying to find something sufficiently different from the norm. Fortunately, I came across this amazing anchor denim and I knew that it was perfect! The pattern suggests using stretch denim with at least 2% lycra – this fabric met the specifications, so I was good to go!

Because I’m a terrible person, I once again refused to make a muslin. I don’t think I’ve ever made one and, unless something is super critical or complex, it’s unlikely I will. That said, don’t let me discourage you from your muslin-making ways! I promise, you are infinitely more patient and practical than I! So, as per my usual method, I simply traced off the appropriate pattern sizes (I think 10 waist, 12 hips) and hoped for the best. Fortunately, the fit is dead right with no alterations and I wouldn’t change anything on my next go round!

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Let’s talk details. One of the most intimidating things about making jeans has to be the endless topstitching. I’ve done a bit of topstitching in the past and always enjoy the finish that it gives to a garment. But there is a LOT of topstitching on jeans and, in most cases, it’s going to be pretty visible. I realised early on, however, that although I couldn’t escape the visibility of my topstitching, I could let go of my compulsive need to have it all look totally perfect. Because while there is a lot of topstitching, this just makes it even less likely that someone’s eye will be drawn to that little wave of stitching where you veered off course. I actually didn’t find the topstitching a problem at all – I took it slowly, practiced things like bar-tacking on spare fabric first, and just generally didn’t worry about it not being perfect. I highly recommend not worrying!

If you are really worried about it, you might want to consider investing in an Edge Stitch Foot. This was one of the recommendations made by some of my lovely readers when I put out a call for help on topstitching in the middle of fabric. In the end, I wasn’t patient enough to wait for a new foot – so I just estimated and went for it. Next time around, I think I’ll get a proper foot, just to make the whole process easier. The main issue is that you can’t really mark on your fabric for topstitching (unless you have a super reliable way that is guaranteed to wash off). But an Edge Stitch Foot will definitely save you a lot of time and anxious energy!

One thing I adore about this pattern is its attention to all of the details that you find on store-bought jeans. The topstitching replicates almost exactly what you would see on any pair – same with the bar-tacking and the pockets! Of course, you could sew the pattern without any of these extra details and it would still make a great pair of trousers.

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The pockets are especially cute! I was really intimidated when I saw the various pocket components (coin pockets, yokes, regular pockets etc.), thinking that it was going to end up being a complicated process. But it ended up being truly simple. In fact, although there were definitely parts of the overall pattern construction that gave me pause and I had to play through in my mind a few times, there really weren’t any stumbling blocks. If you’re going to make the jeans, I highly recommend referring to the Ginger Jeans Sew-Along tutorials. I found these posts incredibly helpful. They elaborate on the instructions included with the pattern and are accompanied by detailed photos of every construction stage. In some instances, the tutorial also offers alternatives to the methods included in the pattern instructions. So if you’re stumped by anything, checking the Sew-Along posts is definitely a good idea!

Now for the scary bit – the fly! Making the Ginger Jeans wasn’t my first time installing a fly. I’d worked through this process on the Tyyni trousers and, although it was definitely complicated, it wasn’t as horrendous as I expected. That said, the Ginger Jeans take the process to a whole new level of simplicity. The fly is probably the most impressive part of the jeans (to me) because it looks so professional, both on the outside and the inside of the jeans. As much as I would love to take credit for this, I literally just followed the instructions.

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Where the fly on my Tyyni Trousers definitely looked a bit ragged on the inside, the construction on the Ginger Jeans is just so clean. I don’t think I’ve had a make that looks so well put-together internally! Having a serger definitely helped with this (especially because denim can fray like nobody’s business). If you don’t have a serger, zigzag stitching will work just as well, and will still help to capitalise on the super clean look that is basically inherent to this pattern.

I genuinely have nothing bad to say about the Ginger Jeans. They’re amazing. The jeans are definitely a time investment – just switching thread back-and-forth for topstitching takes up about 10 hours (I joke but it really does feel this way). All things considered, however, I was honestly so impressed with how quickly the jeans came together. I will definitely be knocking out more of these in the future.

Although the construction is complex enough that I probably wouldn’t recommend the pattern for beginner, you could definitely make these jeans with relatively little sewing experience. Using the Sew-Along for reference, as well as the pattern instructions, you could easily make a great pair of jeans! I’ve learnt so much from sewing this pair but without any struggle or frustration – which, to me, is the mark of a truly well-made pattern.

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Same jeans, different angle.

So if you’re debating whether or not to make your own jeans, debate no longer! Trust me when I say that the Ginger Jeans pattern will get you where you want to go. You will end up with a beautiful pair of jeans and feeling like the trouser ninja that always were inside!

Clémence Skirt (Tilly and the Buttons)

Finally, some photos of my Clémence skirt! The skirt has been sitting on my mannequin for a couple of months, totally finished. But, thanks to St Louis weather, I really couldn’t find a good opportunity to take pics – and I was determined to get the photos while I actually took my skirt out for a spin! Fortunately, we had some beautiful weather last week and I finally got the chance to pop on my new favourite skirt for a picnic with my hubs.

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I’m not really sure what my hopes were for this skirt. I had picked up the fabric last year on sale and knew that it would make a perfect skirt for the summer. However, in a pattern that’s becoming frustratingly familiar to me the longer I’m in the US, the fabric proved too narrow for almost all of the sewing patterns that I had in mind. Le sigh. I’d yet to sew up any of the patterns in Tilly and the Buttons’ Love at First Stitch book but figured I’d have a flip through in the hope that one of them would work with my fabric. Lo and behold, the Clémence skirt was perfect!

There are so many things that I love about this pattern. First and foremost, it’s a super easy introduction to making your own patterns. It talks you through measurements, seam allowances, and the various aspects of drafting the skirt as a pattern for yourself. So you won’t find the pattern in the pattern library included with the book – you have to draw it up yourself. The downside to this is that you obviously need some extra tools – tracing paper and long rulers being the main necessities. But I found it super rewarding to draw up the pattern for myself, so I definitely consider it a bonus that the Clémence pattern offers a really basic introduction to doing this!

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The pattern itself is incredibly simple. It’s made up of just four patterns pieces – the front and back skirt, plus two cuts for the waistband. The shape comes entirely from the gathers used around the waist. Using a stiffer cotton, I found that these gathers gave an incredible amount of volume to the entire skirt – a volume you would normally need to achieve with either an underskirt or the use of horsehair braid on the hem. Using a fabric with some stiffness to it definitely helps the gathers gain this shape.

I also really enjoyed the way that the Clémence pattern introduces beginners to some new techniques. The use of gathering is not necessarily something that beginner sewists would have encountered previously and the instructions included alongside the pattern are a super effective introduction. You will also be guided to ‘stitch in the ditch’ for attaching the waistband, meaning that the waist of the garment – with the gathers and invisible stitching – is a real focal point for the skirt.

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Glittery bicycles and balloons are the best!

The pattern also gives super detailed instructions for using french seams. Confession time – I’ve somehow avoided ever using french seams on anything. I guess I just haven’t come across them with the patterns that I’ve used before. But now I’m obsessed! They are such a clean way of finishing a garment – I’ve honestly never made a skirt that looks as tidy on the interior as my Clémence skirt. Normally, I’d turn to my serger for seam finishes but I think I might be a sometimes-convert to the french seam in future!

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I think the most complex part of the Clémence pattern is the insertion of the invisible zip. But isn’t zip insertion just one of those skills that really takes work to perfect?! I know that, even after two years of sewing, I still don’t have zip insertion down perfectly every time I make a garment. This pattern doesn’t offer particularly detailed instructions on inserting an invisible zip but look to trusty YouTube and you’ll find all of the guidance that you need!

What an incredible pattern this is for beginners! However, even a non-beginner stands to benefit from revisiting the techniques included with this pattern and, ultimately, you definitely won’t regret the opportunity to make such a super cute skirt. The whole pattern sews up in an afternoon and would make a really effective stash-buster because the fabric requirements are so reasonable! With warmer weather on its way, this would make such a great project for just about everyone – plus you get to buy a book with so many gorgeous patterns, which is just an amazing bonus!

So whip out some of that cute cotton you’ve been hiding away and have a go at the Clémence skirt. I know that I’ll be checking in again soon with 50 new versions!

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Ultimate Trousers (Sew Over It)

I’ve been on such a sewing whirl this month. My second make of 2018 is done and dusted and, my goodness, is it a cracker. After many, many months of dithering about whether – and how – to use my favourite fabric, I finally decided to take the plunge. I’d expected that I would go for a dress or skirt since those are traditionally my favourite makes but, on a whim, I had a browse around for some good trouser patterns. My only foray into trouser making (the Tyyni Cigarette Trousers from Named Clothing) was un unexpected success – unexpected because I was scared and had thus far avoided having to really fit anything around my generous butt and hips. The Tyyni trousers stoked my confidence but I’m a sucker for lovely floral cottons and hadn’t acquired any fabric that really propelled me back into the world of trouser making. That is, until I found the most incredible Australian aboriginal fabric and decided that a pair of statement trousers – in the form of Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers pattern – was a necessity…

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Let’s start with how much I love love love this fabric. I was worried that it might be a little too much for trousers but I adore it. I got it on a trip to The Quilted Fox – a fabric retailer in St. Louis. It’s called ‘Spiritual Women’, which just sells it even more, no? The intricate design of the fabric makes for the most incredible statement garment. I love it as trousers because it works so well with a simple top for a casual look, but I could also see dressing it up with a pair of heels and otherwise black ensemble.

In terms of the specific pattern I used for the trousers, I’m not sure that I could’ve done better than Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers pattern. I hemmed to above my ankles to give it a more relaxed feel. The simplicity of the pattern itself – the fact that it uses a side zip and is otherwise unobstructed by a fly or anything else – means that it really works perfectly with a bold fabric. It honestly makes for the most amazing pair of trousers.

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In terms of the construction, it genuinely couldn’t have been easier. I used the PDF version of the pattern and it came together like a breeze. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know that I have a bit of a vendetta against PDF patterns. Even the ones that are generally easier to put together always have some issues – typically a few pages that just won’t go together like they should, with the pattern lines refusing to match up. This is the first PDF pattern I’ve put together where I’ve had absolutely zero problems of this nature. Everything went together perfectly and it was honestly one of the most satisfying parts of the entire process.

The actual trouser construction was also incredibly quick and easy. I had the whole pattern together in half a day (not including pattern and fabric cutting time). This is truly a trouser pattern for all abilities. If you know – or are willing to learn – how to insert an invisible zip, you’re all set. That is easily the most complex part of the construction process. Since I’m waiting on my invisible zipper foot, I only have a regular zipper foot to work with. This – plus the fact that the I made the trousers very fitted – means that my invisible zip is very visible. I knew that this would be the case, however, and half planned for it by picking a bold colour that matched with some of the patterning. I actually think that a visible zip on the side looks pretty great, so this might be a design point to consider when planning out a pair of your own.

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In terms of the fit, I fell right between two of the sizes (10 and 12, I think) for both waist and hips, so I simply drew in my own line. Make sure to pay attention to the pattern instructions when measuring your waist – the measurement isn’t that of your typical waist, but rather 2″ below this point. I ended up drawing a mark on my belly to make sure I was correct. You might also want to get someone else to give a hand with this (or use a mirror) – since this waist measurement isn’t your natural smallest point, the tape measure has a tendency to shift on your back. I had my husband help out by making sure that the tape measure was level the entire way around my body.

I’m super in love with the fit of the trousers. They’re definitely on the tighter side looks wise (although not uncomfortably so) but, since I live most of my life in yoga pants and leggings, I’m pretty used to this. If you want something with more ease, it would definitely be worth making a muslin and sizing up a bit around the hip area. But I honestly think the finished product is incredibly flattering and comfortable just following the size guide laid out in the pattern. When I make another pair of these trousers, I’m not planning on making any adjustments.

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I also really love where the waist sits. I’d say that it’s definitely above where most store-bought trousers sit, but it’s also wouldn’t be classed as high-waisted. The waist is, I think, much of what makes the trousers look so flattering when on. That said, there’s also a super helpful resource on the Sew Over It website for how to make these trousers high-waisted. The website also has an archive of their sew-along for the Ultimate Trousers which provides a tonne of useful information on every part of making the trousers, if you’re in need of a bit of advice.

In summary, I’m just super obsessed with every part of these trousers. Enough that I took them on an outing almost as soon as they were off of the sewing machine.

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So definitely take a look at Sew Over It’s amazing Ultimate Trousers pattern. It is incredibly easy to put together and is an absolutely perfect way to use up those bold and beautiful fabrics in your stash.

Then you can go and hang out with the geese, who will be stunned into submission by your fantastic trousers. Trust me.

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1960s Dress (Butterick – B6242)

After a short Christmas-inspired lull in my personal sewing time, I’ve been back to sewing for myself over the past couple of weeks. My mind has been in another world for the past month while I’ve worked my way through sewing gifts for family but, with my new dressform in tow, I was super ready to get back to finishing off my version of B6242. This is a pattern that I got a while ago – free with an issue of Make It Today! Dressmaker magazine – and have been hanging onto it every since while waiting for the perfect fabric to come along. I finally found the right fabric on a trip to Joann’s and a good look at Gertie’s fabric collection! So finally, many months – possibly years – after the fact, I actually have a version of B6242 ready to share…

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I had a number of concerns going into making this pattern. Mostly, I was incredibly worried by the shape of the bodice. I’m very much one for structured and fitted bodices – these tend to accentuate an hourglass figure and, to my eye, help balance out the fullness of a circle skirt. This is the first 1950s/1960s inspired garment I’ve made that doesn’t come with a very fitted top. That said, I decided to place my confidence in the pattern and the fact that the cumberbund/cummerbund (I’m going to go with cumberbund!) would cinch the waist sufficiently to stop the dress looking shapeless.

I’m really pleased that I put my faith in the pattern! As it turned out, the cumberbund did manage to balance the whole dress and give a sort of symmetry to the top and bottom of the garment. The fact that the top isn’t super fitted also means that the pattern is an incredibly simple construction. The cumberbund relies on gathers to give it a wonderful ruched effect. Gathers are also used on the front of the bodice where attached to the cumberbund, while the back of the bodice is tailored with darts. Assuming that you are able to get to grips with these techniques, there is nothing about the pattern that poses any significant challenge.

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The sleeves on B6242 are probably the simplest that I have ever constructed. They come as part of the bodice, so there is no insertion necessary (inserting sleeves is always one of the most annoying parts for me). Once the bodice is attached to the cumberbund, it’s simply a matter of sewing seams up the side of the dress to the end of the sleeve. The only downside of the sleeve design is the way in which they attach to the side zip. Because this kimono sleeve-style curves so dramatically under the arm, the side zip runs quite far up the length of the sleeve – essentially ending parallel to your armpit. This means that the zipper-pull flaps down very obviously when you move your arm up (you can’t see it in this photo since I made sure to photograph the non-zippered sleeve!). Although this genuinely isn’t much of an issue in terms of comfort, it does look a little odd when you see it. The only real solution here would be to move the zipper further down the side of the bodice which I think would be totally doable without impacting the fit.

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This pattern is definitely full of really interesting and unique design choices. Aside from the cumberbund and sleeves, the boatneck structure of the neckline is a perfect fit for the dress. It nicely complements the width and curve of the sleeves and, once again, poses little challenge for someone with basic sewing skills. The pattern includes information on making bias fabric strips to attach to both the neckline and the sleeves (admittedly, I didn’t use them on the sleeves). I was way too lazy to slip-stitch a bias strip to the neckline and instead decided to attach it with my machine. I don’t think the visible stitching detracts from the overall look and, honestly, it saved too much time for me to feel particularly bad about taking the shortcut!

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Size-wise, I can’t say much about the pattern as it came. Since I got the pattern free with a magazine, I was given a pre-selected set of sizes. Although my bust size was included in the pattern (and just on the size cut-off), I had to grade out for both waist and hips by making my own pattern lines. This wasn’t too much of a bother and the final fit of the garment came out perfectly. However, I would suggest making up a muslin of the bodice if you feel concerned by the relative lack of shape. There is plenty of ease to work with if you want to achieve a slightly more tailored fit.

One final word of warning – be careful when you’re cutting this pattern. Almost the entire garment is cut on the cross-wise grain and I ended up needing considerably more fabric than was suggested by the pattern. Partly this was because the fabric I used came in at 43″ wide which seemed to make a big difference to the pattern layout. If you aren’t used to cutting on the cross-wise grain, just be sure to plan your cutting layout beforehand to avoid a last minute run to get extra fabric (totally my experience).

B6242 is an excellent pattern for anyone looking to branch out their vintage style. While the silhouette is relatively conventional for a 50s/60s look, it has a number of design features that really forced me out of my comfort zone. I was so worried that the bodice would look shapeless and unflattering but totally needn’t have been concerned. Ultimately, I really love how the dress turned out and would definitely make it again!

I’ll leave you with some outtakes from this mini-photo shoot when I encountered the real difficulties of attempting to do blog photos with a nosey dog running around…

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It turns out a dog is the must-have accessory for this look! Someone alert the fashion designers!

Bow Ties (Self-Drafted)

Continuing the Christmas theme, I wanted to do another post about the gifts I made (largely because I’m super proud of myself for making something for someone else!). This post is dedicated to the bow ties that I made for my little brother. This isn’t the first round of bow ties that I’ve made for him – I posted about the others way back in 2016. Since then, I’ve refined my process considerably and drafted my own bow tie pattern to correct some of the issues that I had when I made my previous batch.

*My lovely parents got me a portable photo studio for Christmas, which I’ll be posting about soon. The photos in this post were all taken in my photo studio – partly because I was testing it out and partly because I didn’t want to corral my brother into modelling the bow ties for me.*

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I’m super obsessed with these bow ties. The fabrics are absolutely beautiful and both 100% cotton. I got them from The Quilted Fox, which is an independent fabric seller here in St. Louis. I’ve been working with a few of their fabrics recently and I’ve honestly never come across a better or more unique selection. I picked these fabrics out for my brother because I wanted to give the bow ties a distinctly vintage feel whilst also ensuring that they would be unique, statement accessories. The photos below offer close-ups of both fabrics:

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I’m so happy with how these came out. Given that the previous bow ties were made a year and a half ago, this project has really allowed me to track my sewing progress. Even down to planning out the appropriate seam finishes and figuring out how to achieve the perfect shape, it was very obvious to me that my sewing skills have evolved dramatically. This was only reinforced by my brother’s reaction when he opened his gift, which was along the lines of: “Your last bowties were good, but these are on another level.”

If you’re interested in making your own bow ties, there are a tonne of resources online. It’s such a quick and easy thing to put together but makes for a wonderful gift. My previous bow tie post includes links to some resources and a tutorial. Although I’ve now created my own pattern to avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered before, I’m still using many of the same techniques for construction that were detailed in that post. I plan on sharing my bow tie pattern soon (once I can figure out how to digitalise it) so watch out for that and other related news coming soon!

1950s Stole (Decades of Style)

Sewing for other people has never been my strong suit. Mostly, this is because I’m an unrelenting perfectionist and am never truly satisfied with anything I make. While I can live with this feeling when it comes to things I make for myself, it’s much harder to let go when I sew garments or accessories for other people. Sometimes, however, I’m able to make myself take a step back and remember how far I’ve come with my sewing since I began. Over the past year, in particular, my skills have come on leaps and bounds. With this in mind, I’ve stopped avoiding making things for others and instead let this Christmas motivate me to give some super unique gifts!

For a while now, I’ve been desperate to try out Decades of Style’s 1950s Stole pattern. As you all know, I’m a diehard Decades of Style fan. Their patterns are consistently the easiest to construct because, even when requiring techniques that are more complex (see my version of the Belle Curve dress, for example), the instructions are always crystal clear. So, when it came to picking out a potential gift for my mum, I jumped at the opportunity to have a go at another one of their patterns.

*I promise that all of the pictures in this post are after I gave the stole to my mum on Christmas Day. She opted out of having photos on the blog because she was super harassed making Christmas dinner so, instead, you get more photos of me!*

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Because this gift was for my mum – a woman who loves all things sparkly – I knew that I needed to find a super unique and fabulous fabric. Luckily, I found the perfect thing on a trip to Joann’s. The fabric is a gold sparkly synthetic with a red (really maroon) net overlay. The effect is truly stunning. The fabric is constantly catching the light and sparkling! I lined the stole with a pale gold lining fabric. The fabrics worked wonderfully together and helped to create a stole that will be perfect to throw on over a black dress for an event or party. Ultimately, I wanted the stole to serve as a bit of a signature piece that could elevate a relatively simple outfit (think lots of black) to something more night-time ready. The fabric picks definitely helped me deliver that.

As I expected, the pattern itself was absolutely divine. I had selected the stole in part because I didn’t want to choose anything too complicated. I knew that I had other makes to get done, as well as the pressure of a Christmas Day deadline, so I wasn’t looking for anything overwhelmingly ambitious. As it turned out, the most time-consuming and complicated part of the process was cutting out the shell fabric and lining. The stole comes in four pattern pieces, two of which are essentially the length of the stole itself. When it came to cutting, I was working with the longest pattern pieces that I’ve used to-date. Finding the space to do this (and stopping my dog from climbing all over the fabric) was a challenge. But I’m fortunate enough to have a large space of wooden floor in my lounge, so I managed to find a way forward.

I will also add that, as always, the Decades of Style PDF really came through for me. I absolutely despise PDF patterns. They are consistently a nightmare to put together and, somehow, I’m never able to get the pages to stick together quite how they should. While I’m still not a PDF convert, I’ve used quite a few PDF patterns from Decades of Style and they are always the most problem free. The 1950s Stole pattern fixed together perfectly!

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The stole itself was done in about three hours. It would have been shorter except that I accidentally attached the wrong pieces together and had to do quite a bit of unpicking in order to rectify the situation. That minor problem aside, I had absolutely no issues constructing the garment.

The shape of the finished is total perfection. I adore the drape of it! Although I would probably use a brooch to pin the stole at the shoulder when wearing outside (the lining makes it a bit difficult to get the stole to stay on the shoulder without sliding down), it is incredibly easy to wear. The pattern comes with illustrations that show a couple of different ways of wearing the piece, offering options to work with whatever else you’re wearing. The stole itself has a sleeve on one side and a flap on the other (you can see this in the photo above). I absolutely love the shape of the sleeve, which has an almost kimono sleeve feel to it:

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Of all the features of the stole, however, I’m most obsessed with the hand flap. Last year, I bought a vintage cape with the same option – you can either keep your arms and hands inside the cape or stick them out through small flaps on either side. To me, this feature on the stole truly brings home its 1950s feel, while also offering another great way of wearing the accessory.

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Although fit is obviously not much of an issue when it comes to this stole, the pattern offers three separate bust options from 30″ – 46″, to accommodate nearly everyone. Paying attention to the bust size is vital for ensuring that you get the right amount of drape across the chest. I made the stole in Size B (36″ – 40″). While you’re seeing it on me in these pictures (36″ bust), my mum is on the other end of the Size B spectrum  – the fit and drape worked perfectly on both of us. The length of the sleeve was also perfect on us both!

So if you’re looking for a pattern that offers a super vintage feel whilst taking only a handful of hours out of your day, this is definitely a pattern for you! It’s a perfect gift and a wonderfully wearable accessory, not to mention the perfect way to class-up any outfit.