Category Archives: Dress

Two simple smocks

pa291528

Here are the two full finished dresses from my no-flip facing tutorial post. They’re both very simple loose smock shapes in some fun prints, ideal for autumn and winter with tights and a cardi.

pa291523

The first and most recent is another Megan Nielsen Sudley dress made from a lovely new season Liberty tana lawn print called Moon Dust. (I’m going gaga over quite a lot of the AW prints this year – constellations and clouds and tigers, oh my.)

pa291534

It’s funny to compare it to my first Sudley and see how the use of a very fluid viscose vs a slightly more crisp lawn affects the silhouette. The skirt stands away from the body more in this one, making it rather more loose and bell-shaped.

pa291536

I did the above-elbow sleeve length option this time and also dipped the front neckline lower, omitting the keyhole detail from the back. and of course, instead of self-lining the bodice I did a no-flip facing !

pa291540

For this dress I used the bodice from McCall 7080. I was attracted to the cute waistline tuck in the pattern, however it turned out really weird-looking – bulky and unflattering – so I unpicked it and got left with a much more simple silhouette that’s basically the same as the Sudley.

pa291544

The fit on the bodice and sleeve is really quite nice though so I may use it as a block again. I cut the skirt midi length originally which was a bit overwhelming in the print, so I hacked some off. I might go a tiny bit shorter still.

pa291552

This fabric is particularly special to me because I bought it on my birthday back in January, when I took myself off on a solo daytrip to Brighton. I had an amazing lunch at Silo, trudged the chilly beach from pier to pier, and of course popped into one of my very favourite fabric shops, Ditto, where I bought this stuff. It’s a silk poplin and the print is so beautiful, weird and unique – the very definition of a conversational print. It’s long out of stock but Ditto has another silk poplin in a monochrome globe print which I’m tempted to snap up too as this stuff sews and wears like a dream.

What are you sewing this weekend? I’m feeling quite uninspired at the moment, perhaps because I hate winter and cold-weather dressing, but I might dig out some knits and make a couple of turtleneck sweaters.

Tutorial: non-flipping facings

facing-tutorial-1

I’ve developed my own little way of doing facings that works really well for me, so I thought I’d share it. I haven’t seen it instructed anywhere else or included in a pattern, but for me it removes all the pain points of facings – the flapping out, re-wrangling into place after laundering, awkwardness of sewing them in the round to a neckline – and leaves a nice clean, smooth finish that doesn’t budge.

pa161522-13-33-24

It works well for any sort of simple shallow-ish crew/jewel neckline with a CB zip or without; I don’t think it’d work so well for a deep scoop or V neck. It also works better on lighter weight fabrics because it adds a little bulk to the armsyce seam. I’m demoing on a new Sudley dress I’m making this weekend – here we go…

facing-tutorial-5

1. Draft the facing pieces. Basically you’re tracing off the neckline and shoulder area of the front and back bodices. To get the depth, measure down about 2″ from the centre of each neckline. The back piece is cut straight across to the armsyce, and I’ve curved the front one gently up a bit as it reaches the armsyce.

facing-tutorial-6

2. Cut out from the fashion fabric and from lightweight interfacing; fuse on the interfacing. Finish the lower raw edges of each piece, by pinking or overlocking.

facing-tutorial-9

3. The facings are sewn on individually before the shoulder seams are sewn. Pin and sew the front facing to the front neckline and the back to the back, right sides together, using the pattern’s given seam allowance.

facing-tutorial-10
facing-tutorial-11

4. Grade, clip/notch and understitch both the front and back as usual.

facing-tutorial-12

5. Now we sew the outer shoulder seam and facing shoulder seam as one. Right sides facing, pin front bodice to back bodice shoulder seam, and continue along the facing shoulder seam, taking care to line up the seam intersection in the centre. Sew at the pattern’s given seam allowance.

facing-tutorial-4

6. Trim (no need to finish the raw edge, I just like trimming with my pinks) and clip a triangle out at the seam intersection to reduce bulk.

facing-tutorial-2

7. Press the seam allowances in opposing directions to help it lie flat. Repeat for other shoulder.

facing-tutorial-8

8. Fold facings to the inside and give a good press. Looking good!

facing-tutorial-3

9. Finally, smooth out and pin the facings to the bodice and baste in place along the armsyce, inside the seam allowance. Now you simply treat the facing and main bodice as one when you sew in the sleeves.

facing-tutorial-7

All done, a nice flat facing that will never flip out of place! I think it looks really smart and pretty inside and out.

pa161524
pa161523

For invisible zips again sew the facings to necklines first (the back being in two pieces in this instance rather than on the fold), then insert the zip, then follow the other steps. What’s your favourite neckline finish? Any questions on this technique, just shout.

Emoji Inari

emoji-inari-2

To be honest, all I want to wear at the moment is black sacks, so here’s another one to throw into the mix. But it’s got kitties and cactuses and watermelons on it, so it ain’t all gloom.

emoji-inari-5
emoji-inari-3

It’s my third or fourth Named Inari dress, and the first time I’ve done it in a knit rather than a woven. Naturally that makes it even more comfy! I didn’t alter anything on the sizing, and just finished the neckline with a band instead of a facing. I also topstitched the entire sleeve cuff down so it wouldn’t flip around.

emoji-inari-4

The fabric is jersey knit I had printed with my own design at the Contrado factory back in May. You can read more about it here! This is their 190gsm jersey substrate which is a fairly sturdy polyester-based knit with about 25% stretch, similar to a double-knit and ideal for a pattern where it’s subbing for a woven. It was very easy to work with: I used the overlocker for the shoulder and armsyce seams, and lightning stitch with a walking foot on my normal machine for topstitching, hemming, and the side seams.

emoji-inari-1

Funny, looking at the drag lines on this one that aren’t so apparent in my woven Inaris (and not quite so apparent in real life as in these photos) it’s possible I should do an FBA to this pattern, adding a bust dart or rotating the excess down into the skirt portion. When I hike up the front under the underarms the drag lines smooth out. Perhaps it’s the heavier drape of this fabric making it more obvious here.

I’ve been meaning to dedicate some time to doing some new designs to get printed, as it feels extra special wearing a fabric I designed as well as sewing the garment itself and Contrado have so many interesting and apparel-appropriate substrates to print on.

Starry silky Helmi

named-helmi-dress-4

This project skipped to the top of my queue, and I’m so happy with how it turned out! It’s the Helmi dress from Named’s latest collection, in some star-printed silk crepe that I bought at Mood Fabrics in New York City last week while there on holiday. I had to make this dress happen pretty soon after I got home because I thought it’d be a fun sew and real autumn wardrobe winner.

helmi

After the big win that was the Inari, I was willing to pay £15 for another Named pattern, and I immediately fell in love with Helmi when their AW16 collection launched. I bought it in printed format from Backstitch. It’s got a gorgeous blouse variation with trench flap detailing that I am definitely going to make sometime soon as well.

named-helmi-dress-3
named-helmi-dress-5

I cut a size above my measurements (42/UK 14) and the fit is just how I’d like it. The collar, installed with The Andrea Method, slotted together perfectly and I like how it looks both fully buttoned and at half-mast. I even maintained the set-in sleeves for once because they fit so comfortably and I love the elbow-grazing length (rolled up in these pics).

named-helmi-dress-8

Being me, there is a small list of other deviations from the pattern: a normal button band instead of concealed placket; used the full collar from View A instead of the Mandarin one; extended the button band all the way down the skirt instead of just the bodice; and took 2″ off the skirt length. Fun fact: the pattern’s name Helmi means Pearl in Finnish, so it seemed fitting to use little pearly buttons.

named-helmi-dress-10

This fabric is sooo delicious. I always like to stock up on silk prints at Mood because they have much better range than I’ve found anywhere in the UK. Sadly the GBP > USD exchange rate is pretty dire right now so I only bought three pieces of fabric on this trip, but I’d been looking for a cool star print for ages so was very happy to bring this home for $16/yd. I can’t see it on Mood’s site to link to I’m afraid.

named-helmi-dress-9

Guts! Despite being entirely French-seamed inside and made in slippery silk, this was still quite a fast sew; a part-time weekend sort of jobby. It’s deeply pleasing to be developing a sort of muscle-memory precision when it comes to things like collars, curved hems and challenging fabrics. Things that used to give me hell are now meditatively satisfying to work through.

named-helmi-dress-2

I get the sense that this dress will become a firm favourite. It’s casual enough for work and weekends but the silk means it could work for an evening event too. The looseness makes it really comfy and it looks good both with tights and without so will be a year-round wear. I think I might make one in the lightweight denim I picked up from Purl in NYC next.

Kniti Midi Inari

Inari hack1

Sewing time is short right now and I need guaranteed results, so I’ve been doing quite a few repeat makes of TNT patterns lately. This dress merges the best bits of two of my wardrobe essentials to get another dreamily simple easy-to-wear everyday dress. Guess the two references from my recent makes…?

Inari hack2

Answer: the base pattern is the Named Inari dress, and the fabric choice and mods were inspired by my Style Arc Celine. I wear one or the other of those weekly (and have made a second stripy Inari already) and now this one’s gone straight into rotation too.

Inari dress hack

The pattern ‘hack’ was really easy:
– Freehand convert the round neckline to a V. Tip: cut the V shape in a slightly concave (curving outwards) line rather than straight diagonal: it sits nicer on the upper chest.
– Cut the front as a pair rather on the fold, adding seam allowance, as it’s easier to make a nice V-neck if you sew the shoulder seams, then sew the neckband on, then seam the CF
– Add six inches to the length
– The tie is a separate skinny piece, sewn RS together as a tube then turned RS out, the ends tucked in and sewn closed.

Inari hack3

The fabric’s the same as my Celine, cheapo poly-blend rib knit from MyFabrics, but in navy instead of green. The fabric’s held up really well on my Celine, no bobbling/pilling yet despite many washes. I’m going to buy yet more for future variations on this theme.

Inari hack4

The Inari is designed for either woven or knits, so I didn’t alter the sizing. I think the pattern even includes instructions and a pattern piece to do a neckband for knits instead of the facings. I added about 1.5″ onto the sleeve length and left off the bands.

Inari hack5

One final detail was to leave a small slit at the centre front – easy because of the new CF seam. I was going to level off the hem but decided I quite liked the small extra detail of the stepped hem. I forgot to take a photo without the belt, but it looks pleasingly sack-like and cocoon-y, so it’s really two looks in one. All in all, it’s cycle-friendly, comfy and took like an hour to sew. I need more makes like this in my life right now!

Olivia

Style Arc Olivia1

Another recent-ish addition to my summer wardrobe, this is a Style Arc Olivia dress I made a month or so ago. It’s about the simplest project you could imagine with its kimono sleeves, elastic waist and gently flared skirt. I always feel a bit lazy buying patterns like this, but the unfussiness means they actually get used more often than more unique or complex designs, so it’s definitely an economical purchase. It’s also a great canvas for pretty fabrics and ripe for a few design hacks.

Style Arc Olivia5

The proportions overall are really nice: I like how the slightly longer bodice blouses over the elastic waist, and the skirt’s the perfect fullness and flare – it’s another cycle-friendly gal. As Meg noted when she made her Olivia, the neckline as drafted is really quite wide and scoopy. I’ve actually got the facings safety-pinned to my bra straps to anchor it in place! Next time I’ll alter the flat pattern to make it a little snugger.

Style Arc Olivia6

A little design alteration I made was to do a deep baseball-style scoop at the hemline. I still haven’t actually hemmed the skirt – it’s just overlocked – because I’m a bit stuck on how to do it neatly with a fabric that likes to ripple and won’t take a nice press. I have a rolled hem foot which would be ideal but I’ve never got the hang of it; ditto a serged rolled hem. I’ll deal with it sometime. Or just wear it unhemmed forever…

Style Arc Olivia3

It was the perfect pattern to use my treasured self-designed French crepe fabric, printed by Contrado. Like all springy poly crepes it didn’t like to take a press very well, but it was mercifully non-shifty for cutting and sewing and feels great to wear. I wouldn’t hesitate to get more of their crepes printed with other designs.

Style Arc Olivia1

Considering how fast and simple this was to make, it got INSANE praise when I wore it to work today. I think every girl in the office commented on it, along with gaining boyfriend seal of approval. I’d better get designing more fabric and making it into more Olivias!