Centaurée the Second

IMGP4897_PEF_shotwell_modifiedAs planed I have made a second Centaurée dress.  This time I did the high-low hem and a proper SBA where I followed the instructions in the sew-along.  I made a little error when adding the seam allowances back to the pattern pieces which resulted in me having to take the center front seam in a little but with this busy print you do not see it.    IMGP4893_PEF_shotwell_modified I love the fabric, it is a very soft cotton voile, white with mint green print. I used just under 2 meters. The bodice is interlined with the same fabric and I used ready bought bias tape.  I cut a size 36 and did 3 cm SBA.   I cut a bit of the length of the skirt and even after sewing it together I reduced the center back even more since it had a weird shape.  So I made the hem more even and the fishtail hem is not as dramatic.  IMGP4899_PEF_shotwell_modifiedRecently I bought two presser foots and was able to use them both in the construction of this dress. The first is a rolled hem foot that makes 2mm hems, very narrow indeed.  I like IMGP4902_PEF_shotwell_modifiedit a lot but have trouble sometimes when I sew over seams and the fabric becomes thicker, I may have to consider hemming before sewing the pieces together (in the flat). Other than that it is easy to use and I am considering also buying a 5mm rolled hem presser foot since I think I would use it a lot.  The second presser foot is harder to use, it is an adjustable bias binder and I used it to , surprisingly, attach the bias tape (not the center front which I basted by hand before sewing).  You need a technique to use it and I am getting better and better every time.  It is designed to bind straight edges so when you have curves there is no room for mistakes because you can not stop sewing, pull the garment out of the sewing machine and then start again later.But I am getting better at using it and I have come to like it. And it definitely makes binding edges much faster.IMGP4915_PEF_shotwell_modifiedAnd I am sorry about the photos being almost all the same…

Jersey 1/3 Dress

IMGP4842_PEF_shotwell_modified

 

Often when I see clothes that I really like in stores, worn by other people, on TV or the internet I think of making them for myself and how I could change them to make them better.  When I was in the States recently I bought a very cute, pale pink jersey dress. It is super easy to wear and so girly, I love it.  However it is a bit special, the fabric is nice and should be hand washed and the color is not one I can wear all the time. So I figured I could make a new dress better suited for everyday wear.

I used a bodice IMGP4839_PEF_shotwell_modifiedpattern from Ottobre magazine which I also used for my sweatshirt dress. I compared it to the dress I was trying to copy and made changes according to my wishes. Then based on the waist measurement and my desired length I drafted a skirt which is actually one third of a circle, hence the name.  I think it has just the right flair. I used campan stripes jersey from my stash.  The fabric is super soft cotton with 3% elastane and it feels really good and of high quality. I highly recommend it.  I then sewed the whole thingIMGP4845_PEF_shotwell_modified on my serger except the hem and edges where I used the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine and I also used clear elastic for the armholes and neckline. It feels great to wear.

The day after I finished my dress, the Closet Case Files released their Nettie pattern and I think there is some resemblance. I surely got ideas to improve my pattern, I love the super low back neckline which I will definitely try.  I already have a pattern for sleeves and lengthening the bodice to make a one piece should not be that difficult. You see, I constantly get new ideas! IMGP4843_PEF_shotwell_modified

 

Centaurée Dress aka The Spiderman Dress

IMGP4825_PEF_shotwell_modified

A couple of weeks ago when Deer and Doe released there new pattern the Centaurée Dress I immediately grabbed  a copy for myself. I have been wanting to try out their patterns for a while but never got to it so this time I ordered the new dress pattern as well as the Airelle Blouse.  The patterns arrived a few days later and I was in awe of their beauty when I opened mu package.  The packaging is so pretty and I love the fact that the patterns are printed on proper paper and not thin, tear-easy tissue paper.

 

Impatient as I am I went straight to making a muslin (which is recommended because of the fit of the dress).  Based on my waist measurement I decided on a size 36. I knew I had to do a SBA  and because they usually result in narrower waists I figured it was the IMGP4828_PEF_shotwell_modifiedway to go. I took some time to figure out how to do the SBA. I know there is a sewalong starting this week where this will be tackled but I was to excited to start the dress to wait.  After some thought I figured that the upper seams on the bodice where piece 1 meets piece 2 are actually a form of princess seams which makes bust adjustments rather easy.  So what I did to get a 2cm reduction on each side was to reduce this seam by 1 cm on each piece.  And to compensate I also had to make piece 3 narrower by the corresponding amount. Not so tricky really. I drew these changes onto my pattern pieces.

 

I used Tilly’s method when tracing the pattern onto the fabric and I must say it is excellent, specially when working with patterns on real paper.  It also preserves all the sizes and there is no boring paper tracing to do.

IMGP4831_PEF_shotwell_modifiedI really love the contrast piping in the example garment and decided to go with the same idea, which I regretted on many stages of the construction of this dress.  The piping makes the seams very bulky and the need to perfectly match the seams is highly increased.

I had been eying this fabric for a while because I really love this color. I had kind of decided to make a BHL Flora dress but the Centaurée came along and changed my plan. It is a soft cotton voile and the color is so intense I love it.  It is perfect for a airy summer dress. I used almost 2 meters for the whole dress, including lining the bodice. The piping is kind of gold yellow colored satin, ready bought.  The cord inside may be a bit to thick, a finer piping would have been better but I made it work.  Like I said the construction of the bodice was time consuming and nerve wracking because of the piping.  I had to step away from it many times and look at it from a distance to decide if I liked it or not.  At one point when I had sewn the center seam but the lines did not line up exactly right I actuallyIMGP4830_PEF_shotwell_modified thought about leaving it that way ( I should have taken a picture, sorry). After sleeping on it I knew I would not be happy so I unpicked and made the seam 0.5 cm deeper which did the trick. I compensated by making the side seams 0.5 cm narrower which of course resulted in 1cm wider garment which is alright. The fit is rather good and the stiff piping makes the bust stand out a bit (like boning or a built-in-bra).

The bodice is fully lined and I sandwiched the waist seam between the two layers of bodice which means that the only exposed seams are the side seams, so the inside looks pretty neat.  The binding and the straps could look a bit more professional though, I am not perfectly happy with the finishing, for this I blame the piping again since it got bulky in sensitive places. But I can look away.

I changed the placement of the straps a bit since I like it better this way.IMGP4833_PEF_shotwell_modifiedIMGP4837_PEF_shotwell_modified

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I put the dress on my three year old son told me that it is a pretty dress but it is a Spider Man dress, apparently the “star” reminds him of a spider web. He has a wonderful imagination.  Maybe I should get a spider pin to put on the bodice.

Hawthorn Dress

Hello, I have a finished dress to show today.  This is my new Hawthorn dress from Colette patterns. The pattern is beautiful and has clear instructions with some additional help in the sewalong, which I highly recommend.IMGP4790_PEF_shotwell_modified IMGP4788_PEF_shotwell_modifiedThe fabric is a cotton/viscose shirting fabric which looks a lot like chambray. I got it at Mood when I was in NYC last month and I used about two meters of full width fabric (60”).  It’s a beautiful fabric, presses and irons well and it’s light and flowy, great for a spring/summer dress.

IMGP4807_PEF_shotwell_modifiedIMGP4804_PEF_shotwell_modified

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut a size 2, based on my waist measurement but made some alterations to the pattern. First of all I did a SBA, since I am rather small in that area.  In the sewalong there are some instructions to do this but I found that they were not complete.  They are very clear if you want to do a FBA but I was a bit unsure how to overlap the pattern pieces to get the correct amount of reduction.  Anyhow, since I will probably need to make more SBAs in the future I am planing on studying them thoroughly and maybe even post my findings here. FBAs seem to be much more common than SBAs so obviously they get more attention on the web.  When I did the SBA the front bodice piece was shortened by 2cm so I also made that adjustment to the back piece. Then I also tightened the dress by 1cm on each side seam so overall the bodice fits me well enough. Its a bit baggy under my chest, maybe I need to make the darts a bit deeper, and I would also like to narrow the shoulders a bit.  My final adjustment was to cut 8cm of the length of the skirt(pretty standard for me).IMGP4806_PEF_shotwell_modifiedIMGP4805_PEF_shotwell_modified

The dress is not hard to sew, of course you have to pay some attention to detail when constructing the collar and making the buttonholes.  The hem is sewn by hand as instructed and I am quite happy with it.  It took a long time though because the skirt is a half circle and therefore the hem is soooo long. I have one complaint about this pattern though. When attaching the collar and and facings there is only 1/4 inch seam allowance which I find a bit small and it means that there is really no room for mistake. And if you are sewing with a fabric that frays and you have to unpick you might end up having real difficulty when sewing the pieces back together.  Also when the seam allowance is so narrow I feel you are in more danger of the presser foot falling of the fabric specially when you have to pivot to make sharp corners like on this dress. You have to be very precise when basting and sewing the collar and facings. Maybe this is just me but I will have this in mind next time I make a Hawthorn. Because I am planing more dresses since I only need a few more tweaks to make this pattern fit me perfectly.  I would love a winter version with the long sleeves in cotton flanell or some pretty wool.IMGP4801_PEF_shotwell_modifiedBut overall I love this dress, it is so playful and easy to wear. And it goes very nicely with my new Fieldwork Cardigan.

IMGP4783_PEF_shotwell_modified

Cutting

Without a doubt my least favorite part of sewing is cutting the fabric.  I really dread this part of the process which results in many of my ideas are never executed, even though I have a pattern, the right fabric and all.  Before you start cutting you need a lot of dust free space which means clearing the kitchen table or mopping the floor and then you have to fold the fabric correctly which is hard when you have 2-3 meters of fabric. Then you have to measure everything and even mark seam allowances. When cutting you need to take care and be precise because it really affects the look and quality of the finished garment.

Therefore my newest approach to this problem is to cut a lot at once, to simply get the cutting over with and then I have plenty of fun sewing to do  So the last two evenings I have been preparing a few projects, and now I have a fun pile of ready to sew pieces.  I spent the last of my evening threading my overlocker, testing the stitches on some scrap fabric and now it is also ready to start sewing 🙂IMGP4815_PEF_shotwell_modified

Why seams should be finished properly

IMGP4556_modifiedHello!

So last fall I made this flanell shirt for myself.  I really liked it, although it has its imperfections. Due to the excitement to start wearing it, I decided to take a short cut and only finish the seams with pinking shears. I had read all over the internet that this method is sometimes enough and was happy to try it on my shirt to not have to get my overlocker, thread it and test before I could finish my seams properly. What a time saver, right?

 

 

I wore the shirt a lot until inevitably I had to wash it.  So as I do with all my hand made clothes, I poped it in the washing machine and washed it on the DELICATE program, just in case.  When I took it out if saw to my horror that when working with soft flanells it is certainly not enough to finish the seams with pinking shears only.  It was tragic to look at and I was so upset that I hung the shirt in my closet and have not touched it since.  However, all winter I was thinking: “My flanell shirt would look very nice with this outfit” or “If only I had a cozy shirt to wear with these jeans” and then remembering what had happened.

IMGP4795_PEF_shotwell_modified

The inside after washing. Oh the horror!

IMGP4799_modified

The seam on the outside is coming apart!

So today I decided to fix it, FINALLY!!  And it only took ten minutes!  Now I can wear my shirt again without being afraid it will fall to pieces. Lesson learned!

Beautiful overlocked seam

Beautiful overlocked seam

A couple of Beignets

Hello!

IMGP4759_PEF_shotwell_modified I know I am very late since this pattern was released some years ago and so many sewers have made this skirt already and posted them online. I have been admiring this pattern and the skirts I’ve seen for a while and a few months ago I finally decided to get one for myself. Now I’ve made two versions of the pattern and I am totally in love with the style of this skirt, the high waist, the button down front and the loose A-line fit I find very flattering and the construction is juIMGP4748_PEF_shotwell_modifiedst so clever.  Because it is fully lined there are no visible raw edges on the inside and it looks very pretty and finished.  A skirt like this is not a very big garment so it is easy and not very time consuming to give much attention to the details which give a nice and polished finish, for example hand sewn hem.

 

 

I made the first skirt in black wool/polyester blend with black and white polka dot silk lining (very luxurious). IMGP4733_PEF_modified  I made size 2 and shortened it by about 10 cm since I am not the tallest person.   It has fabric covered buttons of which I needed 10. I omitted the belt, belt loops and the pockets because I read somewhere that they tend to gape and also, unlike everyone, I do not really like pockets in my skirts and dresses.IMGP4735_PEF_modified  I like this version because it is a nice skirt, perfect for special occasions and it feels very classy. The fabric is very soft and maybe a little to soft.  I guess a fabric with more body works better.  Which is the case of the next skirt.IMGP4738_PEF_modified

The second skirt is made from a fine cord in a pretty burgundy color.  Because of the thickness of the fabric I used quilters cotton from the stash for the facings and the lining is a bright blue typical polyester lining fabric.  IMGP4737_PEF_modifiedNot the most usual combination of colors but I think it’s fun.  No one ever sees the inside anyway so it is OK to have it unexpected. Since the first version was a little to wide in the waist I still cut a size 2 but made each seam a little bit deeper (1-2mm). Therefore it is a little bit tighter and I also shortened it by 10 cm. I have worn this skirt a lot and it’s been through the washing machine a few times.  It keeps it shape pretty well but it does wrinkle. And the only problem with this version is the ironing.  Because it is cord I don’t want to iron it from the outside but ironing it from the inside is a little tricky because of the lining.  Also, all those buttons get in the way.  It is a perfect everyday skirt in my opinion.IMGP4743_PEF_shotwell_modified

In all I really like this pattern. It is well made and the instructions are very good and thorough. I just have a few tips.

  • Make sure that the fabric is not to soft and drapy, a stiffer fabric gives the skirt more body and structure.
  • You should decide the final length before cutting the fabric since shortening it after wards can be tricky because of the construction.
  • When I joined the lining to the facings (the long curved seam) in stead of following the instructions, I stay stitched along the seam line on the lining and the facings, then I clipped the curves and pinned the two pieces together matching notches. This way the seam lines are flexible and you can make them match exactly in length before sewing and there is no need to baste. I did this because I felt that trimming down the seam allowance of one edge before stitching together was more risky and if I made a mistake it would be harder to unpick, Using my way you do not have to measure anything and you can pin the two edges together accurately.
  • If I make this again I will try to omit the buttons and have the center front piece whole.  I think that then it will look a lot like Deer and Doe’s new pattern, Anemone

That’s it, two pretty skirts and hopefully more on the way.IMGP4765_PEF_shotwell_modified