V1501

Vogue 1501

I’ve been going through a sewing slump this month. The willingness is there, but the time and decision-making is not. I’ve been buying up a few springlike fabrics and patterns to try to kickstart some motivation, and a recent Jaycotts sale landed me with the lovely new season Vogue 1501 amongst others. I plucked it out this weekend, and it totally worked: this was a heap of fun to make and sew and I have a nice new spring wardrobe garment ready to go.

v1501

V1501 is a Rachel Comey designer pattern. Here’s the pattern art (which is apparently usually one of the actual RTW dresses from the designer’s line) and another similar dress currently on sale at rachelcomey.com (now I want an ankle-length black version, stat). Similar to my last finished garment it’s an illusion top-and-skirt style, with the bodice only joined to the skirt at the front waistband.

Vogue 1501

I didn’t toile because the pattern pieces looked about right: I cut a size 12 from shoulder to waist and 14 in the skirt, and tucked 3/4″ out of the bodice length. The key fitting point to get right is the waistband really as the bust and hips are loose. The fastening is an invisible zip at the centre back waist plus a button loop at the back neck.

Vogue 1501

I can’t get over how good the fit is through the shoulder/upper chest/back with no adjusting: this never happens to me in Big 4s! Are the designer patterns cut to a different block? However it’s a little tight through the bum: darted back skirts never do that well on me.

Vogue 1501

I made a few small stylistic tweaks:
· Removed the deep inverted pleat on the centre of the front skirt; instead cut the pattern piece on the fold on the pleat line. Not a fan of masses of volume around my middle.
· Took 4″ off the skirt length
· The shoulders have a strange ‘gusset’ piece to add height, into which you’re supposed to slip a shoulder pad. The American footballer vibe is not my thing, so I sewed the gusset in flat instead for a tiny cap sleeve effect.

Vogue 1501

The construction reminded me of my beloved Vogue 1395: nothing overly taxing or tricky, but some satisfyingly fiddly little steps to work through. Zen sewing at its best. I put my trust in the instructions, which were mostly pretty good, though I found it a bit weird that you get directions to French seam the skirt pockets but no clue on how to finish the rest of the skirt side seams. So I had to hastily overlock them afterwards.

V1501

I especially appreciated the all-in-one facing unit to finish the neck and arms being sewn in my preferred way, which takes longer but gets a really lovely smooth result.

Vogue 1501

This fabric has been kicking around in my stash for ages; it’s a lightweight cotton from The Man Outside Sainsburys in Walthamstow and was a good match for the pattern. (I hear tell there’s another Walthamstow meetup next weekend so I’m looking forward to seeing what TMOS has in store these days.) I definitely want a solid version in black or navy next to try and emulate the lovely RTW version above.

Trompe-l’oeil

Adele dress

Meet my newest little black number…

Adele dress

Surprise! It looks like a cropped top and skirt but it’s actually a one-piece dress.

adele

It’s my take on the Adèle pattern by Anne Durrieu, an impulse purchase as soon as I saw it on Julie’s Instagram feed. I’ve been wanting to self-draft this sort of dress for ages but never got round to it, so for a £6.50 PDF I thought I’d take a punt on an unknown-to-me French company. Anne Durrieu seems to make and sell rtw clothing as well as selling the patterns to DIY them, and this is their second dress pattern release.

Adele dress

For a dress that looks quite clean and simple there’s a lot going on. The skirt attaches to the bodice lining only, leaving the swingy outer bodice loose over the top. The outer bodice is joined to the lining at the neck and both are attached together at the armsyce. The back of the outer bodice has a slightly curved hem and buttons up the back. There’s bust darts in the lining, pleats and darts in the skirt, and there’s an invisible zip in the underlayers to fasten it. If that sounds pretty complex… it was, ha ha. Now factor in that the instructions only come in French!

Adele dress

The diagrams weren’t that helpful and Google translate did not prove insightful, so I was on my own with the construction really. I tried as much as possible to reverse-engineer it ahead of time but my unpicker still took quite the workout: I think the waist seam came out four times before I got it right. The lining acts as a semi-lining and semi-underlining, leading to even more ‘which is the right side?!’ confusion and unpicking.

Adele dress
Adele dress

The good news is it fitted nicely off the bat. I can typically tell now if I’m going to have to alter the fit just from looking at the bodice pattern piece, which is handy. The neckline and sleeves in particular are a nice shape and very comfortable. I cut size 40 graded to 42 but ended up taking it in a bit at the waist and hip so might go for a 38-40 next time.

Adele dress

The main fabric is a fairly thick and spongy seersucker from Ditto with a woven-in stripe, and the lining is a black cotton sheeting. I picked easy to work with fabrics to mitigate the tricky construction, but I do think something a touch lighter and drapier would work better. It’s a bit heavy for spring.

Adele dress

I should add that even though the basic fit and style were good, I did make quite a few major and minor alterations as I went along sewing this, which include:
– shortening the sleeves and leaving off the pleat at the hem;
– shortening the back of the overlay by about 1″
– doing a normal placket/buttons on the back overlay instead of the suggested elastic loops and facing
– moving the invisible zip to the side seam instead of centre back…
– …which involved redrafting the skirt, because the side seams of the skirt and lining are designed to not match up. I made the front skirt narrower and redrafted the pleats and darts to suit.
– took about 3″ length off the skirt

Adele dress

If I were to make this again it’d go much faster now I’ve wrapped my head round the construction! Despite what seemed like a lot of fiddling to make it work, I’d still recommend the Adèle pattern if you like the style and feel like a challenge because it’s a neat little 25-page PDF and seems to be well-drafted. I fancy one in a jersey knit with an elasticated waist, and I can see it in a more spring-appropriate colourful rayon print too.

Minimal cord jumpsuit

Cord jumpsuit

I’ve waxed on before about how much I love my Roberts dungarees and they’re a total wardrobe staple for me, so more jumpsuit type things have always been in my sewing plans. I’ve made another set of overalls since, but they were a wearable toile and while they certainly are wearable I wanted to rework them with a few tweaks.

Cord jumpsuit

I used the same vintage pattern, McCall’s 9077, as a basis, but traced it out, removing nearly all of the design details and refining the fit a bit. The fit still isn’t perfect around the top; next time I’m going to pivot the straps inwards as they are too wide-set and like to slip off my shoulders.

Cord jumpsuit

I used a fine pin-dotted cotton corduroy from Miss Matatabi. I had 2m and it was only 41″ wide so I had to do some very creative cutting to make the long pieces fit onto my yardage. I added a back waist seam, one of the back legs is cut on the cross-grain, the crotch is pieced, and the upper back is pieced in about 4 pieces. Luckily none of that shows up in real life or photos, though I quite enjoyed pointing it out to my colleagues.

Cord jumpsuit

I wanted bigger pockets but this was literally all the yardage I had left, so they are tiny useless pockets that fit nothing.

Cord jumpsuit

I didn’t feel like doing facings or binding (and had no fabric left) so all the edges are finished by simply turning and hemming, which worked surprisingly OK.

to sew board

On a tangent, I had a couple of comments on my post about swatching for spring that it’s interesting to have a peek into how I plan what I want to make, as well as the projects themselves. And to be honest I spend far more time on the planning/dreaming phase than the actual making, so it’s a nice thing to write about.

pinterest

Pinterest is obviously a great tool for collecting inspiration. I have boards for each type of garment (dresses, tops, bottoms, jumpsuits) along with some more general boards with ideas for outfits and wardrobe planning. Recently I also started a To sew list to extract all the things from the various boards that I want to make imminently. Generally I’ll only add stuff to my to-sew list board when I have a good idea of the fabric and pattern I want to use. My first make using this system was actually my Melilot blouse, which was based on this pin, and this is the second!

jumpsuits

Up next, I want to make a floatier culotte-leg jumpsuit based on this pin, and I have some perfect chambray-coloured linen mix in my stash. It’s really nice to have a list of things I want to make that I know are going to work in my wardrobe, so when I sit down to sew I know I’m going to get something useful and highly wearable at the end.

Une chemise très française

Deer & Doe Melilot shirt

Since making the By Hand Sarah and discovering that button-down shirts do in fact have a place in my wardrobe, I’ve bought up a couple more shirt patterns for a bit of variety. This here is the Deer and Doe Melilot, from their latest collection, Botany.

Melilot

I wanted to try this one in particular because it’s kimono-sleeved which I find more comfortable and casual than set-in sleeves, and it’s got a traditional stand collar which means it can be worn fully buttoned or at half-mast.

Deer & Doe Melilot shirt

I made View B but with the collar from View A. From looking at the final garment measurements, I cut a size 44 because I like my shirts on the oversized side and it’s designed to be more fitted. I also added an inch more flare at the hemline on both front and back to make extra sure it’d fit my hips. The fit is nice and comfortable but next time I think I will bring it in at the bust as there’s a bit of excess fabric bunching under the arms.

Deer & Doe Melilot shirt

I love the exaggerated dipped-hem look of the pattern but it stuck out in a weird flappy fashion over my bum, so I took up the hemline by about an inch on the front and 2 inches on the back. In doing this I also smoothed off the curviness of the hemline, making it easier to sew. You’d definitely struggle to do a turned hem, even a narrow one as suggested in the instructions, so next time I will probably use bias binding to finish the hem instead. Otherwise the instructions are good and it’s all finished with French seams and clean finishes, with no overlocking in sight.

Deer & Doe Melilot shirt

It’s a double French blouse because as well as using the D&D pattern, the fabric is from Atelier Brunette and bought on my recent trip to Paris. It’s a very lightweight cotton voile called Lili, which was a mixed bag to work with – it pressed well but was shifty and slippy. One of those makes where the pattern and dark colour hide a bit of less than perfect stitchery, ha (although I promise the pockets ARE straight and aligned, it just droops a lot on the hanger!). As you can see the fabric creases a bit with wear, but as it’s a causal shirt I’m OK with it and it’s very soft and comfortable.

Deer & Doe Melilot shirt

The pretty pearly-peach buttons are from my stash, a perfect match for the seed-head pattern on the fabric. I put fake ones on the pockets to help them stand out a bit.

Deer & Doe Melilot shirt

This was fun to sew despite the slightly difficult fabric – a nice bank holiday weekend project. After making a couple of small fitting alterations I’ll definitely make another one in a solid colour, perhaps a grey sandwashed silk.

Memphis Moneta

Sprout Moneta

I’m back at work full-time these days for the first time in years, and despite having grand plans, it is taking its toll on my sewing productivity. I’ve been less willing to take on more ‘serious’, involved projects and drawn more to fun and fast sewing that I can work on in an hour or two in the evenings. Enter Sprout Patterns! As you may have heard, they’re an offshoot of Spoonflower who print pattern pieces directly onto fabric yardage, meaning no prep required – just cut and sew. Caroline at Sprout contacted me to review the offering, so after spending way, way too long going through a million options of fabric and pattern, I settled on the Colette Moneta dress in this incredible Memphis inspired print.

sprout

With several indie pattern brands signed up, coupled with the entire Spoonflower library of prints, there’s an awful lot of scope for playing designer on Sprout. You can see a shortlist of my favourited prints here, and I’ve already dipped back in for more orders. I especially like that as you’re designing your project you can see a 3D preview and move around the print placement to your liking. My order took a little over a month to arrive from the US but that’s atypically long; I think it got holed up in customs somewhere. Shrinkage value is factored in so I threw the fabric into a delicates prewash and let it air dry before getting sewing.

Sprout Moneta

Here’s what the pieces look like – a thick white border makes it foolproof to see where to cut and each piece is labelled here too.

In the interest of sewing science, I timed exactly how long it took me to do each stage of the construction.
– Cutting the pieces with my rotary cutter: Seven minutes
– Main overlocker construction (incl a couple of baste-and-try-on sessions): 32 minutes
– Finishing (hemming sleeves and skirt): 12 minutes
So that’s a dress fresh from prewash to finished in well under an hour!

Sprout Moneta
Sprout Moneta

One clear issue with Sprout for some is that obviously that you can’t do flat pattern alterations, as the pieces are already printed onto the fabric. Hence why I picked a knit project as they’re much more forgiving in the fit department. Fortunately the Moneta dress in straight size M fitted great, which was honestly quite a surprise – I was prepared to hack around with seam allowances if needed. I’ll probably make more Monetas sometime as I really like the shape – a Sprout bonus is that you get the full PDF pattern included with your order.

Sprout Moneta

Even given the prescriptiveness of a cut and sew pattern I did make a couple of tiny style alterations. One was to add a band to the neckline rather than turn and hem it – I don’t think turn and hem is a good solution for knit necklines, no matter what Colette thinks. There was plenty of spare printed fabric around the pattern pieces to cut a neckband from. I also left off the pockets because they seem useless and bulky in a knit, making things even faster. Finally I turned back the sleeve hems to the reverse white side for a touch of contrast.

Sprout Moneta
Sprout Moneta

Overall I’m pleased with the quality and handle of the fabric – my first experience of a Spoonflower knit. This is the Modern Jersey substrate, a poly/spandex knit, which is medium weight, drapey, nice and soft, and easy to sew both on machine and overlocker. The print is sharp and vibrant, though not quite as saturated as I was expecting from the screen swatch. If i was being picky it does seem to show a bit of the white backing colour through where it’s under stress at the seamlines (see above), and I’m interested to see how it holds up with repeated washings, but so far so good.

Sprout Moneta

Overall, it’s certainly a thumbs up from me on Sprout. I love my crazy cosmic 80s finished dress and it was such a lovely fast and stress-free project – exactly what’s needed sometimes. I’ve placed a second order for some Grainline Lark tees for me and my sister already in some equally excellent prints – watch this space.

Here are some final pros and cons of the service to consider before making your own Sprout order:
Why’s it great?
– Serious corner-cutter for the time-poor and/or lazy (of which I’m both)
– Endless possibilities of amazing prints and patterns
– If you pick a TNT pattern or if the pattern is easy to adjust as you sew there’s few worries about fitting. Also for kids’ clothing or accessories, where fit isn’t much of an issue, it makes total sense.
– Good value, considering you get all the fabric you need plus the reusable pattern included.
The drawbacks:
– You can’t make significant pattern alterations or grade between sizes. I wouldn’t be able to buy most woven dress designs as I’d need to make considerable flat alterations before cutting my fabric.
– On complex patterns you’ll still need to transfer dart and other markings.
– Shipping to the UK is around $30 and you may get stung with a customs charge too (though I didn’t) so it could work out expensive for non-Americans. I used a free shipping deal for my Lark order and there’s a discount code below!

Sprout Moneta

If you fancy a go with Sprout yourself, there’s 20% off all Moneta dress orders in March with code MONETAMADNESS! Thanks very much to Sprout for providing the order to me for review.

Swatching for spring

With the spring equinox this weekend marking the official end of winter, I feel like the slight fug that’s surrounded my sewing motivation (and perhaps brain generally) might be lifting. What’s more fun than finally feeling able to plan for lighter fabrics, camisoles, dresses sans tights, midi skirt and moar jumpsuits? To that end I ordered a bunch of fabric samples to kickstart some ideas forming.

colours

First, I revisited this little colour palette graphic that I made myself a while ago so I didn’t go crazy and order a bunch of things that wouldn’t fit cohesively together. This winter I definitely tended towards black as a default more often than not, and I’d like to reintroduce a bit more colour back into my clothes. I want to hunt out some pinks and greens, and I’m tending towards solids over prints these days. Plus I just always throw in some good neutral denims and trouserings as good ones are so far and far between! Assuming others are as interested in fawning over fabrics as me, here’s the swatches I ordered and what I thought of them.

swatching

From Ditto fabrics: Indigo stretch denim, Washed Mid Blue Stretch Denim, Ivory linen jersey, Tropical Leaves Silk Noile.

Both of these denims are lovely and appear to have great recovery (they’d be perfect for skinny Ginger jeans), but the colour of both is not quite right for what I’m after. The silk noile is absolutely luscious and I don’t think I can resist it for a simple pullover tee. The linen jersey (my sample was actually Stone not ivory, but it seems to be sold out) is a delicate, loose knitted and slubby with a slight sheen – lovely, but not for me. I’d definitely spill stuff down it or snag it within five minutes.

swatching

Croft Mill: Life’s a Peach, Premium Viscose Jersey – Forest, Premium Viscose Jersey – Silver Marl, Peach Fleck

I’ll be getting the peach and forest green jerseys for t-shirts, they feel very nice quality. The peach fleck is a little too thin and shiny, and while I love the grey I do have a LOT of grey t-shirts already…

swatching

Croft Mill: Give a Little – Navy, For The One and Only Kate Moss, Beste – Tan, Beste – Khaki

I find it really hard to test trouserings from a little swatch. The tan and khaki gabardines are beautiful colours, light-med weight, no stretch, but get pretty creased when I crumpled them. The navy gabardine has elastane in for stretch and seems to drape better. The ex-Topshop ‘Kate Moss’ crepe feels gorgeous and doesn’t crease at all – could be a winner for some culottes or a jumpsuit.

swatching

Finally, Merchant and Mills sent along these swatch cards because I’m going to review a forthcoming pattern for them. But clearly I’m going to be ordering more for myself too. Some tottorri seersucker and tomari twill will be top of the list.

Anyone else (in the northern hemisphere) starting to look forward to spring sewing?