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…

20180130_121749

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.

20180130_121800

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.

20180130_121806

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.

20180130_122713

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.

20180130_122507

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.

20180130_122808

 

Advertisements

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…

20180113_132637

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.

20180113_133115

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.

20180113_133155

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!

20180113_133511

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…

20180113_132814

20180113_133014

20180113_133019

20180113_132829

20180113_132849

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.*

IMG_5784

IMG_5786

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:

IMG_5793

IMG_5800

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!*

IMG_5828

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!

IMG_5843

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:

IMG_5808

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.

IMG_5840

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.

The Cocktail Hour Blogger Tour: My Make

cocktial hour - blogger header

After many months of waiting, my Cocktail Hour make is finally here! I’ve posted before about the fantastic selection of patterns on offer and I honestly had the hardest time picking out my choice. But I finally settled on the gorgeous V8997 and boy did it deliver a beautiful dress…

20171116_115510(0)

In the interests of full disclosure, I’m not a drinker. My martini glass has tap water in it. It was also 10am when I took these photos so it’s just good sense.

When I was looking through the patterns on offer, I knew that I wanted to make a dress where the base pattern wasn’t inherently formal. I wanted a pattern that could work just as well as an everyday dress. That way, I figured I could have some extra fun hunting for a fabric that would take the dress to Cocktail Hour level. V8997 comes with six versions – all super different and perfectly suitable for a variety of occasions. I went with Version A because I loved the romantic sleeves and the floaty skirt. However, there are several options for a fitted skirt, as well as both sleeveless and long-sleeved variations.

I made the dress using a black brocade fabric and it was an absolute nightmare. I’ve never worked with a fabric that has frayed so dramatically and so quickly. Without my serger, I’m not sure that the dress would’ve survived. Fortunately, now that it’s finished, I’m incredibly glad that I decided to persevere with the fabric I picked out. I knew that it would perfectly elevate the pattern – a pattern that would work well in so many different kinds of fabrics, depending on where you intend to wear it – to a Cocktail Hour make.

20171116_115936

Now that I look back at it, there’s actually something super witchy about the fabric. Which just makes it all the better because the stars are the real selling point.

Of the pattern’s various features, the sleeves are absolutely one of my favourites. I was concerned that the thickness of the brocade meant that both the sleeves and the skirt would lose some of their shape but the fabric ended up working perfectly. I think this type of sleeve is a wonderful option for anyone looking to make a more formal dress whilst hesitant to go sleeveless. I always like a bit of coverage because I get cold super easily. I also think that, compared to the other versions of V8997, the fullness of the sleeves works incredibly well with the wide, deep neckline.

20171116_115848

I absolutely love the neckline on this pattern. Firstly because V8997 comes with a choice of cup size when cutting out the bodice. This is such a rarity and takes a whole lot of the effort away from the sewist when attempting to properly size the chest. Although I rarely have to adjust the fit of the bust on garments, I find it a really annoying oversight when patterns take no account of bust-fullness. The fact that V8997 offers cup variations was so exciting for this reason. I also just love the deep V on the front and back of the dress. The V is low enough to help the shape of the sleeves and skirt pop, but still high enough that you don’t have to worry about any inappropriate flashing (versus appropriate flashing which is, of course, fine when consensual).

The width of the neckline helps to balance out all of these proportions and is, to me, one of the features of the pattern that makes it so appropriate for more sophisticated settings. I won’t lie, it’s a pain finding a bra that works with this. My strapless bra didn’t fill out the bust of the dress properly so I ended up just wearing a normal one and pushing my straps to the very edge of my shoulders. This obviously wouldn’t be very feasible when wearing the dress out and about. So I would certainly suggest that, if you’re planning on making this pattern, you account for underwear choices. Finding a strapless bra that works and fitting the dress around it would probably be the best path (if you have a lot more forethought than I did).

20171116_120040

20171116_120116

Now all of this is very well and good, of course. But what you’re asking at the back of your mind is what we’re all asking whenever we look at a new dress/skirt pattern – ‘Where are the POCKETS?’ As if this dress couldn’t get any better, I get to tell you that V8997 does actually include pockets!! I had an internal debate for all of 5 seconds about how appropriate pockets would be in a Cocktail Hour setting before I decided that, honestly, women suffer from a terrible lack of pockets in their clothes. Who am I to miss a chance for more pockets when they’re offered to me? Plus, you never know when the opportunity might present itself to sneak some extra canapés away with you.

20171116_120251

Moving on from the various features of the dress, I want to highlight the simplicity of constructing this pattern. It’s labelled a ‘Vogue Easy Options’ pattern and, although I wouldn’t say this dress is necessarily right for an absolute beginner, it’s certainly a stress-free make. The dress itself is fully lined and, as many of you know, I genuinely despise lining garments. Every time I try to do it, I face a million problems. But lining V8997 went surprisingly smoothly. Had this pattern been my first experience with lining, I probably wouldn’t have the massive aversion to lining that I currently do.

I ended up leaving the lining of the skirt unattached at the hem because I liked having it hang as more of an underskirt in order to give the dress a bit of added volume. Obviously this completely depends on personal choice. But I think finding a way to volumise the skirt a little is perfect if you choose the Version A sleeves. I really appreciate the way that the shape of the skirt and the sleeves is so similar in this version of the pattern and leaving the lining loose on the skirt was perfect for really helping these parts of the dress mirror one another.

20171116_115525

So there we have it! It’s been such a pleasure taking part in The Cocktail Hour Blogger Tour. As with the Big Vintage Sew-Along, proceeds from the patterns in the Cocktail Hour selection go to The Eve Appeal. This charity raises awareness of and funds research into the five gynaecological cancers. I think we can all agree that this is an incredibly worthy cause. So please be sure to take a look at the patterns on offer and make a purchase to back this fantastic organisation. You can also take a peak at the choices of the other fabulous bloggers who have taken part, which is a wonderful way of getting some extra inspiration. Make sure to post some photos of your makes and use #sipandsew so that everyone can enjoy your beautiful garments!

 

Tyyni Cigarette Trousers (Named Clothing)

The past week has seen some serious gains in my sewing productivity. After a wedding and another move, I’m finally settled with my husband in an apartment of our own! And, along with all of the other major advantages of our new place, I even get my own sewing room – I’ll be putting a photo tour up on Sew for Victory soon! Needless to say, I’ve been sewing up a storm since we moved. For a while now, I’ve been working on my very first pair of trousers. I’ve been super scared of making trousers because I’ve heard so many stories about tight crotches and flappy thighs. It just felt like there’d be so many different measurements to contend with. Not to mention, shopping for trousers has always been my least favourite thing. I have bigger hips/bum measurements in proportion to the rest of me and have always struggled with finding trousers that fit my butt but don’t gape massively around my thighs. Obviously, this is a big argument in favour of making your own trousers. But shopping for them has always been such a nightmare that it had basically deterred me from even attempting to contend with my own measurements.

Boy do I regret waiting for so long! I decided that I wanted to take a leap by making a pair of trousers, while still trying to keep the style on the vintage end. So, after searching around for a while, I settled on the Tyyni Cigarette Trousers from Named Clothing. And I could not be more impressed with how this pattern came together…

20170730_100716

Hey! An excuse to wear my favourite hat!

For how afraid I was about the complexity of trouser sewing, I still can’t express how easy this pattern was to construct. I used a PDF version that – magically – actually glued together without any problems (I am too used to having to manipulate the pages together to get the lines to match up!). I graded out a size at the hips/thighs which was super simple to do. The only thing to watch for is how this impacts the zipper flap – but use a curved ruler and you shouldn’t have any problems. Given that the fit was my major concern, I made literally no modifications other than the initial grade out. And I’m incredibly happy with the final sizing. The trousers have just enough ease to be comfortable and allow perfectly for moving around/sitting. I took them on an outing to see a documentary at the local art museum and sat still in them for 90 minutes without any comfort issues.

20170730_101104

Having a great time with my hat.

Since the trousers are high-waisted, this is probably the main area to be concerned with when assessing comfort. Had I reduced the size even slightly, I can imagine that the waist would have cut into my stomach pretty badly. Since I used a heavier trousering fabric – I can’t remember what blend it was exactly but it has an almost velvety feel to it – and the waist is reinforced with interfaced facing, it’s got a pretty stiff structure to it. This obviously means that, when sitting, the waist has the potential to be pretty problematic if you cut it too small. Just be sure to watch for that!

Speaking of the waist, literally the only issue I had when sewing up this pair of trousers was with the facing for the waist. No matter how desperately I tried to get the facing to fit on the waist, the facing was obviously two-ish inches too small for the waist line. I have absolutely no idea how this was the case. I double checked the cut for the facing from my pattern piece and honestly couldn’t see any discrepancy in my fabric pieces. I spent about two hours trying and trying again to get it to work. I thought that perhaps I was folding the fly wrong or placing the facing incorrectly. I tried easing the two together in every conceivable way. But every time, I was coming up very short with the facing. In the end, I cut out another two inches from my fabric and added it on to the facing piece that I had already constructed. It attached totally fine after this and everything looked great – so I’m still not sure what the issue was. It’s much more likely that this was my problem, rather than an issue with the pattern. But I wanted to mention it so that you don’t make yourself crazy over it if you end up with the same issue!

20170730_100919

I also really want to mention the shape of the final garment. I was genuinely quite concerned about how flattering the finished product would look on my body. I still have crazy insecurities about my bum/hips which, despite working hard to discard what I know are ridiculous and society-imposed rules about body size and shape, I struggle to shed. I’m definitely doing much better about it but I still find myself trying to avoid anything that I feel emphasises those areas of my body. The Tyyni trousers are not ones that serve the shape I traditionally look for – I generally go low-waisted and actually a bit tighter to my body. But I am amazed by how great I feel in these trousers! I love how they look – the darts give them a beautiful shape and I honestly feel like they’re super flattering. So flattering, in fact, that I was happy to throw on a crop top and go.

20170730_100955

Also, side note on the pockets! What a fantastic excuse to whip my William Morris fabric back out. Those of you who’ve been reading Sew for Victory since the very beginning will remember this fabric from the lining of my Beignet Skirt. I’ve been looking for a way to use up some of the remnants and HELLO POCKETS!

20170730_100808

20170730_100822

I’ve sewn many different patterns that I’ve felt I would make other versions of in the future. Mostly, however, I struggle to find occasions that make a lot of the patterns wearable on an everyday basis. These trousers have a definite vintage flair to them but are probably the first thing I’ve made that I could see myself wearing on a super regular basis. I will definitely be making more versions of the Tyyni trousers in the future – they are just so easy to put together and the finished product is amazing. But, in the meantime, I can see myself pretty much living in this pair. So, if you’re looking to make your very first pair of trousers or are just looking for a new pattern, definitely go for Tyyni. Named Clothing have made trousers a super and surprisingly simple sewing endeavour!

The Sweetheart Dress – My Wedding Dress Muslin!

This much anticipated (by me) post is finally here! I’ve been busying myself with my wedding dress muslin for a while now, trying to tweak the fit to exactly what I want. And it’s finally done! Now that I’m underway with the real thing (and my move to the US is fast approaching), I thought it was about time to share some photos of the muslin and my thoughts on the Sweetheart Dress pattern from Sew La Di Da Vintage!

DSCF2694

My strategy with the muslin was very much to alter that pattern as I went along. And there was quite a lot of modifying to be done in order to get the fit that I wanted. From the beginning, I was keen to achieve a well tailored shape to the bodice – particularly important as a complement to the fullness of the skirt and the big ol’ petticoat that I’ll be wearing underneath it.

The main strength of the Sweetheart Dress is, I think, the neckline. It’s so wonderfully shaped and I especially appreciate the way that the straight neckline is complemented by the way that it curves around the back of the neck. Something about the shape elevates the dress from a standard day dress to a garment that really does work in more formal settings. This is obviously vital to any wedding dress that is made using less traditionally formal patterns, since you’ll still want to make sure that you look bridal. Adding a level of formality that works for a wedding dress was also the main reason that I decided to go with the straight neckline, rather than the sweetheart option (I was a bit worried about a potential cleavage situation).

DSCF2702

The main modifications I made to the pattern were around the bodice. I took the bodice in quite a lot to achieve a more tailored look. Initially, there was a LOT of ease. I ended up taking the dress in when I attached the back zip, basically working with pins until I felt that I had enough ease to be comfortable but not so much that I felt baggy. I had a similar issue with the neckline (obviously I’m talking only about the straight neckline option here) – there was quite a lot of gape when I first put the bodice together. Judging from photos of other people’s makes that I’ve studied, I think this is a relatively common issue. But it was easily fixed. I just took in the seams attaching the front and side front panels, essentially adjacent to the neckline. I probably ended up taking these seams in by about 1 inch on either side to get the neckline to lie flat.

DSCF2725

Apart from that, the only other modification I made was with the hem. Mine ended up being quite narrow, simply to ensure that I was achieving a length that worked with my petticoat (the one that I’ll be wearing for the wedding, rather than the one pictured here).  The length of my muslin is really the maximum I could have achieved without actually adding more fabric when I cut out the pattern pieces – so bear that in mind if you’re after something longer, although honestly I think this length works perfectly for the ’50s style.

I think the skirt on the pattern is spectacular. It’s got the classic circle skirt silhouette but has two front pleats that offer a unique take on the traditional ’50s dress patterns. I think this is another detail that tailors the Sweetheart Dress for more formal occasions. Since I’ll be making my wedding dress in a heavier brocade fabric, I think the fall of the pleats and the hang of the skirt will look especially great! Obviously with a skirt so fabulous (and no fiancé here to tell me I’ll make myself sick), I decided that I needed to do some serious spinning.

DSCF2741

And, yes, I did make myself sick. There are a lot more than two of these photos on my computer.

DSCF2733

As you can see from the back shot of the dress, the invisible zip is very much un-invisible. This was kind of a sacrifice on the path to getting the bodice to fit right. I might let the bodice of the wedding dress out a bit to better accommodate the zip (when the dress isn’t on my body, the zip is actually invisible), but I’m not too worried – mostly because a white zip on a white wedding dress isn’t much of a problem. Obviously I won’t be diving in to sewing up the wedding dress with the exact same measurements and dimensions of the muslin – partly because the fabric is totally different, and partly because I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate since the muslin was made! But it’s good to have some idea of the issues I had with the base pattern so that I can go in a bit more aware of potential problems.

The final thing I’ll mention is the heart patches. I’d like to claim that this was a work of creative genius conceived before I started sewing. Unfortunately, that would be a massive lie. The dress was finished and ready to go. I was trimming down the seams on the zip and accidentally cut a massive hole through the back of my dress. Oops! Obviously my first thought was my usual when I run into any kind of issue, large or small – throw the whole thing in the bin. Fortunately, I resisted and decided the best thing to do would be to patch it in a way that worked. So I bought some red cotton, fashioned some heart templates, cut them out of the fabric, attached some interfacing, and top-stitched them to the dress. I think it actually worked pretty well in the end, proving that you can salvage even the most desperate mistakes!

DSCF2729

I was honestly so stressed out about making this muslin. There’s a definite level of pressure to sewing your own wedding dress that I didn’t quite appreciate before I started making. Fortunately, the Sweetheart Dress pattern is incredibly easy to work with. Modifications aside, the pattern is the clearest that I’ve ever used, with detailed instructions and photos at every step. The structure of the dress is also such that it would be a great dress for beginner sewists who are feeling a bit more ambitious!

From here, it’s on with the wedding dress. Just a few weeks to go!

1950s Flared Dress (Vogue 1043)

Here we are, with my first make of 2017! This is a garment that’s been a long time coming. As mentioned in my previous post, my life has encountered a few curves and swerves over the past couple of months. Sewing and blogging were put on hold for a little bit and V1043* – a dress that I started back in October for the Sew Dots challenge – was in literal pieces! But last week I decided that it was high time I pulled my sewing machine out of hibernation and got this project finished. And my goodness has it reinvigorated me! This pattern is divine.

dscf2601

So cute, right? To be honest, I was pretty worried about this pattern. The wrap top and kimono sleeves presented a few different challenges and required some brand new skills. But, as I typically do, I decided to put my faith in the pattern and hope for the best. Fortunately, Vogue patterns are so well written and instructed that this trust is always incredibly well placed. The process wasn’t particularly lengthy – most of the effort goes into the bodice and sleeves – and creates a really impressive garment in a lovely, short time frame!

The bodice and neckline are gorgeous. I adore the wrap effect and it sits just perfectly. I graded out a size from bust to waist, following my measurements, and the final product fit snugly and comfortably. The handmade belt gives an opportunity to accentuate the waist a little further – I think this is a glorious touch that helps to balance the full circle skirt and make the wrap effect of the bodice really pop! The wide neckline and kimono sleeves add further vintage details to the top and sit absolutely perfectly. I didn’t have to adjust any pieces of the pattern to encourage a better shape, which is always a joy!

Neckline close-up and a shot of the back.

This dress has a fantastically 50s feel to it. When it was finished and I popped it on, I could just feel the pin-up vibes oozing off of it. This is a feeling that’s enhanced by adding a gauze petticoat to push out the circle skirt. But the skirt also sits wonderfully without the petticoat, making it totally viable to wear as an everyday springtime dress (albeit, with a lot of va-va-voom to it)!

dscf2303

If you’re thinking about giving V1043 a go, I would definitely suggest working with a bold fabric. I picked up this patterned cotton from my local fabric shop and, although I was a bit worried that it would look too busy, I was encouraged by my love of both polka dots and flowers! This fabric actually has a gorgeous vintage feel to it and I think works perfectly with the pin-up feel that’s so inherent in the style of this pattern. It works beautifully with some t-bar heels, bright red lipstick, and victory rolls (I found the EASIEST method for getting some good looking victory rolls. Seriously, it is incredibly simple compared to the many tutorials I attempted to follow online. I’m going to pop a post up with some instructions soon!!).

So go forth and give V1043 a chance. It’s beautiful! Plus, you can attempt your very best, most serious pin-up poses and inevitably be much more successful than me!

*I got V1043 with a sewing magazine that I bought a while back. I goggled around for a link to where you can buy a copy. It’s available on Amazon US but there are also a few hits on Etsy!

1940s Vintage Apron (Simplicity 1221)

I’m on a real roll this October! Since it’s Sew for Victory‘s anniversary month, it makes sense that I should be churning out some adorable vintage makes. Following the success of my Objet d’Art dress – which, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know has already been out and about in the countryside – I was determined to capitalise on my new sewing momentum! So I whipped out Simplicity 1221 – a pattern that gives four different choices of 1940s aprons – and decided to create a truly flouncy apron for prancing around the house.

dscf2270

Now, just to be clear, I don’t cook. I’m lucky enough to live with a fiancé who enjoys cooking and is quite happy to be in control of the kitchen. That said, every so often I decide to get my bake on and whip up a cake or some biscuits. I rarely wear an apron, but when I saw this pattern and the fabulous ruffles on the straps, I knew that – even if it goes totally unworn – I wanted to add this particular make to my collection.

I used a random cotton fabric that I found in my local fabric store, after falling in love with the polka dots and tiny alpine strawberries. It worked perfectly well, particularly in giving the apron that 1950s pin-up vibe. I decided to add a bit of extra flavour to the pattern by sewing some white piping along the inner edge of the straps. I had spent quite a bit of time debating how to break the apron’s various panels up a little so that it didn’t look too blocky – I think the piping did a great job of that. If I was going to make another version of this pattern, I would probably look at adding some more piping to the edges of the waist panel – it would just give the whole thing a little extra *pop*.

I love the vintage touches on this apron. Although the front panels were a bit of a nightmare to sew and I found the pattern a little unclear in places, the construction is definitely true to period. The ruffles obviously give the apron a real 1940s-1950s feel, which is accentuated by the fact that the straps cross at the back. There’s also a little pocket on the skirt – I appreciate a pocket on any garment, so this was a real bonus feature for me!

This definitely wasn’t the easiest pattern for me. Straying outside of the skirt/dress comfort zone is something that I rarely do. Since I’ve only been sewing for a year, every pattern generally exposes me to new skills or construction elements. Simplicity 1221 is a pretty drastic departure from anything I’ve made before so practically every step involved doing something new. I’m always up for a challenge and this pattern definitely presented it. I would caution anyone debating whether to make this particular version of the pattern to either make a muslin or take some time to really study the pattern before making. I faced a lot of confusion with some of the steps where I couldn’t quite work out what the pattern was telling me to do. Now this could just be a consequence of my relatively little sewing experience since I found that after a little perseverance I was able to figure out what needed to happen. But if you’re not used to making this sort of garment, it’s probably worth taking some time to familiarise yourself with the instructions regardless of sewing experience.

Overall, I’m super happy with this make. Despite presenting a challenge, the finished product was so worth the effort! When I put the apron on over my Betty dress (worn with petticoats) and some heels, I felt very glam! Although I am 100% sure that I would make a useless housewife and am quite happy to stay out of the kitchen, at least I’m now prepared if the Bake-Off inspires me to whip up a cake or two. At the very least, this apron is a great addition to my wardrobe of handmade goodies!

 

The Objet d’Art Dress

Oh I’m excited for this one! My version of the Decades of Style Objet d’Art dress has been a while in the making but, once I got properly under way, I just knew that this pattern was something special.

After wrapping up my dress for the Big Vintage Sew-Along, I was suffering a serious case of lost sew-jo. I poured a whole lot of effort into turning V9127 into something special and, although I was so incredibly proud of what I produced, I ended up feeling pretty burnt out. I wrote a while back about my search for a pattern that would help me recoup some enthusiasm and the Objet d’Art dress has definitely done the job. And here it is…

This dress is a 1950s inspired pattern – although, as I mentioned in my previous Vision Board post, I get definite 1940s garden party vibes from this one. The neckline and pocket detailing are truly unique points of focus for this dress. When I stumbled across the pattern (I say stumbled but I peruse the Decades of Style website on a near-constant basis), it was those unexpected twists on a classically simple silhouette that drew me in. These incredible details are something that Decades of Style patterns always do amazingly well – the Belle Curve dress is another example. And in the Objet d’Art dress, the detailing is used to perfect effect.

What is truly innovative about this pattern is its simplicity. Looking at the neckline or the pockets, you’d think that some serious sewing trickery was involved. But it is as simple as sewing darts and positioning them correctly. That’s it. Follow the markings and you end up with a gorgeous lapped neckline and some fantastic triangular pockets.

I’m trying not to rave too hard but I’m struggling to find anything negative to say about this pattern. I used a PDF version of the pattern and had no problems putting it together – that is to say, all the pieces fit and the markings were super clear. I went straight in without making a muslin (I really am the worst when it comes to making muslins because I’m impatient and always prefer to just alter as I go), grading the pattern out one size at the hips. The finished product fit like a glove with no further alterations to the size at all. Bear in mind that the dress borders on having a pencil fit around the hips/bum (although this could just be on me) so make sure you account for that when choosing your size. That pencil shape gives it a gorgeous silhouette but obviously a little less ease. Also there’s a fab kick pleat on the back of the skirt which I love!

My fiancé told me the left-hand photo captures my spirit because, in his words, ‘you look like you’re trying to teach me something’.

Fact: I hate zip insertions. They are the bane of my life. And, for some reason, no matter how many Youtube videos I watch, I’m still rubbish at it. I don’t think there’s a single zip in any one of my garments that doesn’t look at least a bit jerry-rigged. But I figure as long as it’s functional and doesn’t fall out, I’ve done the job. Probably my only piece of sadness about the Objet d’Art dress was having to put in a zip. It came out just fine in the end, although my hand is strategically covering a slight puckering at the bottom. Tips on zip insertions are always welcome (seriously, please help me).

The last thing to mention is the fabric! One of the things I loved about the look of the pattern was the photos I saw on the website, with a version of the dress made up in a green striped fabric. The pattern is designed to work incredibly well with vertical stripes. So I did a bit of hunting around and decided to exploit the gift voucher that I won from The Splendid Stitch for a photo of the Belle Curve dress that I submitted for Vintage Pledge July. The fabric is a Light Blue, Navy and White Striped Shirting  and it worked gorgeously well. If you choose to use a vertically striped fabric, no magic is needed on your end to achieve the final effect – if you position the pattern pieces as instructed, you’ll end up with a lapped neckline that is accentuated by the direction of the stripes. I particularly love the way that this came out on my version.

So there we have it! Another gorgeous pattern from Decades of Style who have, so my most recent look at the website has informed me, added a whole load more PDF patterns. I have a couple of other projects lined up for the next month or so but trust me when I say that it won’t be long before a new Decades of Style pattern is featured here!

dscf2199