Friday, May 24, 2013

Two Colette Laurel Dresses in Liberty Lawn


When the Laurel dress pattern first became available I was completely uninspired by it for two reasons:  I didn't think the shape would suit me and I thought it looked a bit boring.  First, I found out I was wrong about the boring bit.  This dress is definitely as interesting as you make it and, having decided I'd give the pattern a go, I found I was wrong about the shape not suiting me at all.  I still think there are other silhouettes that suit me more, but the Laurel is better on me than I expected.


It was almost impossible for me to get any decent photos of this dress today, as it's been raining all day long, heavily, and it's so, so dark AND 7°C  out there.  Seriously, it may be cosy and atmospheric, but it's also crazy. I's May.

I had read that some people had had a few fitting issues with this dress.  I soon found out I was one of them. In the past I found I am a size four in Colette patterns, except for on the waist where I usually grade up to a six.  Because this dress is obviously not fitted at the waist I went for a four all round.  On making up a muslin I discovered that there was an incredible excess of fabric across the upper back.  To get around this I extended the back darts all way up to the neckline and ended up taking out 6.5 cm in total (see altered pattern below).  That is a lot.  The dress still slips on with no back closure, no problem.  The second thing was that for some reason the shoulder seam needed moving towards the front by 1.5 cm.  Odd.  I have never come across that before.


Anyway, once these alterations were made, the dresses came together so quickly.  I really do enjoy finishing edges with bias tape, and I'm so used to it now that I don't ever use pins, let alone basting!  It really takes only several minutes to lay the tape on, sew it, press, fold and press, sew again...done!  And it looks great.

I would make loads of these dresses as they are so easy to throw on (and they look great on dog walks, with wellies and a little cardi) but I have so many other new and interesting things I want to make, there just may not be time.



Monday, May 20, 2013

Victoria Blazer - By Hand London

Having made the Elisalex twice, and being of the opinion that it's a great little pattern, I was quite keen to make up the latest offering from By Hand London: the Victoria Blazer.  So, I did, as soon as it arrived.

I made it up on Saturday, from a very soft and oddly silky denim from Our Patterned Hand, and lined it with a cotton poplin I bought ages ago, and which was languishing in my stash, way down the pile.
P5192384 P5192380
This pattern makes up very quickly, and I really did enjoy it.  Every single piece fitted together so perfectly.  I kept thinking, this is the bit where it will all go wrong.  I bet this won't fit like it should (just the pessimistic side of me!) but everything was perfect: the front/collar dart (with some rather aggressive snipping!), the collar and lapel pieces, the lining and shell, the sleeves, the cuffs - everything.  And that reminds me: the sleeve head has the perfect amount of ease in it.  Seriously, I have never before managed to ease a sleeve in without getting some pesky gathers in there somewhere.  But these...not a gather in sight.
Unless the collar and lapels are left standing up, and not folded back, the lining is always going to be readily visible, so that should be taken into consideration when choosing something suitable.

I would make this jacket again, maybe in a fabric with a bit more body.

Edited, to add: In fact, with the collar and lapels folded back, the lining only shows glimpses of itself.  In the photos I have purposely folded mine right back to show the lining but I had forgotten.  Still, better to choose a lining you are fond of, as it will show itself sooner or later!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Michael Miller Eiffel Towers By Hand London Elisalex

So, this is my second Elisalex and if I look smug, it's because I love it.  I have to tell you though, using the Michael Miller Eiffel Towers fabric wasn't my idea.  I just happened to have it in my stash when I saw the wonderful Roisin's dress and obviously, shameful though it is to copy someone outright, it seems I couldn't stop myself and had to make my own, albeit in a different colourway (actually I prefer Roisin's).  Thanks to Roisin for being so gracious about it, and not minding me copying her and then posting the dress on my blog.  

Right.  I had mentioned that in this version I might take a little off the shoulders, and it ended up being about 5mm on each seam (equalling 10mm per shoulder).  As there was enough gapping in the armscye - above the bust - to show my bra straps, I took a little out of the princess seams above the bust.  There is still a little gapping but I didn't want to end up taking so much out that it would restrict movement.  It's that old fitting chestnut again: striking the correct balance between it looking like it fits and being comfortable to move around in.  I think I have got it right in this dress, with very little effort.

Now that I have the fit right, I could make up this dress very quickly indeed.    And that's even allowing for matching the pleats up with all the seams perfectly.  Mine do match utterly perfectly, all round.  So does the waist seam at the back.  When I make anything with any kind of pleat, or indeed anything that has to match up - seam-wise - I always pin the pleat in place and then pin the skirt to the bodice to see how everything lines up, and then make any adjustments necessary.  I also do that before inserting a zip.  I pin the waist seam together at the back, to make sure the neckline edges don't need adjusting.  I take every precaution I can think of, in order to avoid seamlines that don't match up.  I didn't used's just something that has evolved over time, due to shoddy things happening in the past.

This dress is lined with black medium weight lawn, which I enjoyed hand-sewing at the waist and zip edges whilst sitting in from of the TV with the rest of the family.  I do like a bit hand sewing.  I find it very satisfying.
The hem is finished with black satin bias binding, and my seams have been turned back on themselves and sewn but I don't know what that's called!  Oh, and I top-stitched around the neckline and the arms.
I will wear this dress a lot.  Usually I fall into the trap of making my dresses uncomfortably "fitted" (!) at the waist, in an effort to make them look more flattering (delusional).  Yes, well.  It doesn't work, and the dresses are a bit uncomfortable to wear (STUPID!)  The Elisalex is so flattering, due to its emphasized hip area, that I actually made the waist a comfy size and it still looks brilliant.  Yay! for Elisalex.  This is a brilliant pattern, it really is.

Now I just need to make the tartan silk dupion version and not mess it up.  I already have a little sailor-themed burlesque pillbox hat to go with the dress, so there is no going back.

Have you seen the By Hand London Victoria pattern?  I might like the photos of it but I would be more likely to buy it if it had a line drawing to go with it.  I like my line drawings...

Thursday, May 09, 2013

By Hand London Elisalex Dress Muslin


As usual, I have been sewing but not blogging about it. Most recently I made a Colette Laurel dress, which I will blog soon(ish)and the above bright (understatement!) orange drill muslin of an Elisalex dress. I had wanted to make this pattern for a while as it's a bit like one of my faves, Vogue 8511, only with the defining features a bit more pronounced, by which I mean the skirt is more bubbly and the princess seams on the bodice are a nicer shape. Oh, and the back is a bit more special, being cut in a lowish "v".

I wanted to shorten the skirt by quite a bit, as this does come up really really long, but I didn't want to lose the narrowness at the bottom, so I took a big chunk out of the "thigh" area. Once I'd smoothed off the sides, it did look a bit of a rounded shape for a skirt but I thought I'd see it through and I think it came out okay. I like the excess fabric and the way it drapes at the sides (actually, now I come to think of it, I did remove a bit more of the curve when it came to sewing).
I had to make a little extra bust room by increasing the curve of the princess seams by about a little under a centimetre.  And when I make the real version of the dress (in tartan silk dupion for my brother's wedding) I think I'll take over a centimetre from each shoulder seam as it feels a little big there, and also across the top of the back.
I know the fabric is ridiculously bright and it makes me look like a cadaver in some lights (not a flattering look) but I like it!  The shape of the dress is just lovely and very easy to wear as the skirt is so loose below the waist at least.

I am about to make another one in a quilting cotton to double-check the fit before cutting my silk, so will post that as soon as it's finished.

Now I just have to post everything else I have made.  Gosh I am a lazy blogger.