Category Archives: Finished items 2013

Knit ballet dress for my sis

Knit ballet dress

It’s funny that now that I’m getting more confident in my sewing skills I’m making more for other people. I suppose I needed to be sure that my workmanship was up to it before inflicting my handmade garments onto others. So here’s a sweet little dress I made for my sweet little sister. Since she’s very petite it can be hard for her to find stuff that fits sometimes, and she requested a copy of a princess-seamed ballet dress from H&M that fits her well. I used my Aztec print knit from Rolls & Rems to make her this fairly faithful copycat.

PB140874

I used Dixie DIY’s Ballet Dress pattern in size XS as a base. The pattern has been tweaked by Dixie since I last used it so the fit around the arms and bodice is noticeably better now. I also tweaked it a little myself by adding princess seams to the bodice per the RTW dress I was copying. To do that I cut a curved piece from the side of the front bodice piece and re-traced it, adding seam allowance and bulging the curve out by about half an inch in the middle, to make a new side piece. The fit was perfect first try, yay!

Knit ballet dress
Knit ballet dress

This fabric was very easy to work with: it’s a thick, stable knit so nice and cosy for winter, and doesn’t fray or pucker at all. I had a decent stab at pattern matching, and especially like how the lines turn to chevrons at the skirt side seams. It’s got my usual finishes: twin needles neckline, blind hem.

Knit ballet dress

I’m especially pleased with the super tidy insides. This was such a quick sew: barely an afternoon from printing the pattern to finishing up. This pattern is just a great canvas for pretty jerseys to make quick everyday dresses.

Knit ballet dress
Knit ballet dress

She barely stays still for three seconds so excuse the photos, but here’s evidence that she’s worn it twice so far, including to work and to hug my tubby little cat, so I’m pleased it’s a hit.

Papercut pleated pants

Papercut pleated pants

Another new sewing challenge surmounted: tailored trousers, with a proper zip fly-front and everything: Papercut Patterns’ pleated pants to be precise. I made them in a slightly tweedy charcoal wool from my shopathon at Mood.

Papercut pleated pants

The pattern is great, although it’s definitely one to toile first to check fit and techniques. Lots of bloggers say the sizes come up very big but I didn’t find that was the case. I graded between the S and M which fitted about right. The construction went pretty smoothly and was a good level of challenge. The pieces all slotted together very nicely and the instructions – in a little fold-it-yourself booklet – are good. I messed up the fly front a couple of times and managed to set the pleats the wrong way, but no major disasters. I’m quite proud that these are labelled for ‘skilled’ sewists and I didn’t struggle much, actually!

Papercut pleated pants
Papercut pleated pants
Papercut pleated pants

The front didn’t quite want to stay flat so I used two hook and bars instead of the suggested one, and also slipstitched the bottom two inches of the zip opening closed. I decided to add belt loops right at the end, mostly inspired by Jolies Bobines’ fabulous pants using a similar new République du Chiffon pattern. They’re quite functional at keeping them in place, as well as adding a bit of detail to the wide waistband.

Papercut pleated pants

Nice and tidy inside. I slipstitched down the waistband before topstitching for accuracy, and all the raw edges are overlocked.

Papercut pleated pants
Papercut pleated pants
Papercut pleated pants

The fit overall is good: I like the mid-rise and slim legs, and the cleverly shaped waistband has no gaping at all. For some reason though, I’m feeling a bit ‘meh’ about the finished garment. I’m just not sure the mannish silhouette with hip pleats is the best shape on me, and I’ve been struggling to think of ways to wear them in an outfit. I usually tend to like a slouchy top half but then the look just gets baggy all over, so I think more fitted tops are the way to go.

trousers

I had a little trawl for styling ideas – I like the patterned knit and asymmetric blouse ideas. Any other thoughts on styling them? We’ll see if I pick them up to wear very often. I poured a lot of love into them so I hope so!

Papercut pleated pants

I’m pretty sure I’ll make these again, but next time I’d pick a solid coloured twill or denim for a more casual look. I have another Burda trouser pattern that I want to try first. The mission to sew perfect pants starts here…

Feather tunic dress

Feather dress

Zzzz, it’s another elastic-waist knit dress. This is what happens when I resolve to sew things that I’ll wear a lot, ha ha. I stitched this pretty thing up last week and wore it on Saturday for a cultural day of museum visits: first to see the Cheapside Hoard at the Museum of London with Kathryn and Julia, then to the TFL Museum Depot in Acton, where these pics are from. Antique bling and transit nerdery in a new dress = a big Saturday win in my book (Scuse the asymmetrical sleeves here, not part of the look.)

Feather dress

The fabric is part of my haul from Mood in New York. It’s the most beautiful knit: I think it’s rayon jersey because it’s super slinky: thin yet heavy and extremely drapey. There are so many patterns it’d be beautiful for – wish I’d bought more yardage – but I went for quite a casual tunic dress so I could get more day to day wear out of it. It was a bit tricky to cut and sew, but worth it as it feels sooo good to wear. Like I’m wearing nothin’ at all!

Feather dress
Feather dress

It’s a bit of a Frankenpattern. The bodice is Dixie’s Ballet Dress, shortened to empire line. This is basically my knit bodice sloper now because it fits really well and is so adaptable. The skirt is based on Simplicity 1800 with its cool yoke pockets, but I gathered the waist with elastic all around rather than do darts and pleats.

Feather dress
Feather dress
Feather dress

I was nervous to finish and hem this super-stretchy fabric, but a few ninja techniques made pretty light work of it. The hem is a machine blind using a walking foot which turned out satisfyingly invisible, although the dress wound up a little shorter than I was planning. It’s fine with leggings as a tunic type thing, though. The sleeve cuffs are pressed back twice and twin-needled – I can also wear them rolled up since the wrong side of the fabric is a lovely mottled grey colour. The neckline is Megan Nielsen’s technique again.

Feather dress

I love this dress, so I’m sure it will see many more London adventures. And I’m off to google for more rayon jersey to buy now as I want many more copycats.

Storm smock

Storm dress

Just sharing an easy Sunday sew, a smoky smock-y dress made as the storm started to appropriately brew outside (which kind of turned out to be a damp squib, in my area anyway.). One of those makes where I bought the fabric with a ~vision~, washed it immediately, cut out while still slightly damp and had the thing finished by the next night. Anyone else do that or just obsessive me?

Storm dress

I found the fabric in Rolls & Rems in Lewisham on Saturday. We were down in the area meeting friends at Brockley market so I skipped down the road afterwards. It was pretty good, though actually I think my local Holloway one has better stock. Yes, it’s basically tie-dye denim, the description of which conjures up a vision of an 80s nightmare – but this is a subtle one in moody shades of grey and just £5.60/m. I was happy to find it as I’d been planning a copycat of this Motel dress for a while (without the nasty lace-up back) and this stuff is a decent match.

Storm dress

It’s basically a fitted bodice from a Burda pattern in my stash together with a simple gathered rectangle for the skirt, closed with an invisible zip up the back. Not exactly a taxing exercise.

Storm dress
Storm dress

The sleeves are left elbow length and rolled up, the hem is a machine blind, and the neckline is serged then twin-needled. These are fast becoming my favourite finishing techniques: a superb combo of being fairly quick yet pretty pro-looking and easy to wear and care for.

Storm dress

I’m pretty happy with this quick and cheap make overall: the fit could be a bit better across the shoulders and neckline – you can see here it gapes a bit – but it works as an easy autumn frock.

Plaid wool shirt for Josh

Shirt for Josh

I finally got Josh’s shirt finished up, just in time for his birthday yesterday — I actually sewed on the final buttons and made him pose on the very day. I think we’re both pretty happy with how it turned out.

Shirt for Josh
Shirt for Josh
Shirt for Josh

(Excuse all the cat hair and dust, it needs a spin in the wash.) I used the Burda Jakob pattern, a semi-fitted style with a full stand collar, buttoned cuffs, curved hem and chest pocket. As I mentioned before, Josh picked out the wool plaid when I bought the fabric for my coat from Dalston Mill. It was quite pricey, so I made sure to take my time and do a good job with it.

Shirt for Josh

I made a toile out of cheap polycotton first to check everything made sense and that the fit was right. Not many adjustments were needed from the medium size, just shortening the body and sleeves a little (I took most of it from the cuffs since my client wanted them narrower anyway) and reducing the ridiculous Seventies-disco collar considerably.

Shirt for Josh

The construction was really quite fun as well as satisfyingly challenging in parts. The pattern is perfectly drafted and unusually for Burda the instructions are clear and thorough, with photos and diagrams throughout. I especially enjoyed the really nerdy details like matching the checks, careful pressing and topstitching and doing neat mock flat-felled seams throughout. I would have liked to do true flat-felled seams inside for a really pro finish, but they proved tricky in this fabric.

Shirt for Josh

I supplemented the instructions with some of the Archer sewalong steps and Andrea’s superb alternative method for setting in a collar which worked a treat. I redid the collar once because I overcompensated and cut the first one too narrow, and also omitted the interfacing from it the second time since it was pretty thick anyway. The buttons on the tips are nonfunctional, they’re just stitched down.

Shirt for Josh

The wool plaid Josh chose pressed and stitched up nicely, but its thickness and frayability did make the construction a bit more challenging. The collar stand, cuffs and shoulder seams are rather chunky because I was nervous to clip too much, though a bit of steam-pressing helped it settle down. I think there’s 8+ layers around the armsyce where the yoke and sleeve join which my poor machine really struggled with. All the raw edges inside are either concealed or overlocked so I feel good that it won’t fall apart in a hurry anyway.

Shirt for Josh

I used my buttonhole foot for the first time for all the functional buttons: together with the one-step program on my machine it makes them sooo easy. I’ll be buttoning all the things from now on! I used the machine to stitch the buttons on too, just going very slowly on a short, wide zigzag setting. Totally worked, even if it probably isn’t the done thing.

Shirt for Josh

This is definitely the most precise and well-made garment I’ve made so far, probably because I was making for a harsher critic than myself (not that Josh is harsh, I’m just pretty lax) and I really wanted to make a shirt he would love and wear often. It seemed to take forever compared to my usual makes – about ten sessions over about a month – but I quite liked the change of pace. I even put the speed limiter on my machine, and I can see the difference in neatness and accuracy when I go slower. Definitely a lesson learned going forward. I’d like to make him another shirt in a lighter fabric like a flannel, now that I know this pattern is a good fit and fun to sew.

Checked Scout

Checked Scout

Well, apparently I don’t need my coat just yet, but I made use of the leftover lining in a little Scout tee, perfect for this warm autumnal Thursday. It’s Josh’s birthday so we popped to the new Ace Hotel for breakfast and he snapped these photos for me outside. (His own plaid shirt is finished too so I’m going to blog about it as soon as I can get him to model it!)

Checked Scout

I had an awkward shaped piece of this plaid lining left over from my coat, and luckily the trusty Scout pieces just fitted onto it. I even just about managed to centre and pattern-match the checks, something I’m getting quite obsessive over lately. I would have liked to cut the whole thing on the bias, but there definitely wasn’t enough for that.

Checked Scout
Checked Scout

I had to make it just a little shorter and smaller than my other Scouts, so I left little vents open at the bottom of the side seams to make sure it fitted over my hips. I left the back a little longer and slightly curved. I think it works either tucked in or loose over jeans.

Checked Scout
Checked Scout
Checked Scout

The sleeves are simply press-hemmed and the neckline is finished with bias. I did cut a little pocket but ended up leaving it off as I thought it spoiled the symmetry of the checks.

Checked Scout

For a ‘free’ top I think it turned out pretty cute. It’s soft and cosy so a really nice layering autumnal tee, and the wool doesn’t crease at all with wear. Winner! I’m glad I got to use this fabric again somewhere where you can actually see it as I love the colours.