Category Archives: Finished items 2015

Ad Astra per Aster

P7220271

I seem to be incapable of sewing up a pattern as written these days. I often find myself removing design elements, merging pieces, using the same techniques and finishes over again. It’s a win-win really because these less complex garments are quicker to sew, and simple silhouettes are inevitably the ones I reach for to wear the most regularly as well. 

That’s my way of explaining that this is a sort-of-not really take on Colette Patterns’ Aster blouse. I was a bit surprised that this pattern didn’t really take off in blogland that much – I’ve only seen Marilla and Jaime‘s out there. Personally I love it and I’m glad that Colette seems to be moving away from a slightly cutesy/fussy vintage aesthetic into more basic wearable pieces.

Aster

As patterned this blouse has cuffed sleeves and a yoked back with gathers. I merged the back and yoke pieces into one, removing the gathers, and added cut-on cap sleeves in a similar fashion to my Alder hack here. Finally, I ditched the little straight edge at the top of the button placket because I couldn’t get it looking sharp and not like a mistake. Basically took the pattern from having 5 or 6 separate pieces to just two, ha ha.

Aster

This is only the second Colette pattern I’ve made – the Peony was one of my very early projects and was a full-on disaster, so I did approach this with trepidation. But happily my fit issues with Aster were all minor. I just had to raise the bust dart apex about an inch and pinch a small dart out of the neckline – that’s all. Despite my design changes I think some of the Aster’s detailing is retained like the pretty curved hem, shaped side seams and elegant neckline. I do need to do a little more work around the neckline, I think – perhaps a forward shoulder adjustment and to make the v-neck’s edges slightly more concave as they appear to bow outwards.

Aster

The fabric for this make was kindly supplied by Alice Caroline. I’m sure they’re on your radar already if you’re a Liberty lover like me. As well as selling a large range of Liberty prints by the yard, they specialise in pairing designs and colours together to form special bundles and kits to use for patchwork and quilting. Check out their site or Etsy store to browse the range. This top is made from Kevin tana lawn which I’ve mad my eye on for ages – I love the dusty colours, and like my super happy manga Holly, it’s one of those prints where you only see the lovely constellation details from up close. Thanks, Alice Caroline, for enabling a lovely staple summer top. Anyone else got plans to sew an Aster?

Triple culottes

Vintage culottes

Apparently I only make things in threes now, ha ha. This weekend I busted out three pairs of culottes – all the same pattern but plenty of variation in fabric and detail.

Vintage culottes

This is a vintage pattern that I bought a while ago, I think on Etsy or eBay. It’s from 1984, the year before I was born! Obviously I was mainly drawn to the kicky button-down options, and I finally dug it out after getting culotte envy both from the sewing community and the high street. Some in-print culotte options: Itch to Stitch, Style ArcBurda.

Vintage culottes Vintage culottes

I made this wearable toile first, from a mysterious peachskin/suedette from Myfabrics. I bought it with a voucher and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting – less drapey and quite thick and er, quite bright orange! This is view A of the pattern, which has buttons down the centre front of one of the legs, and halfway between the short and long length options included with each view. I was really happy with the fit with no adjusting – I must have a vintage-style figure because I rarely need to alter old patterns much at all – and they came together really quickly. But to be honest I don’t know if I’d ever be brave enough to wear them – orange suedette mega-shorts make quite a statement. Maybe if I switched out the buttons for some tonal ones? And handed out sunglasses?

Vintage culottes Vintage culottes

Second go, in a really lovely lightweight linen cotton from Minerva Crafts. This is a mash up of views B and C from the pattern – view B’s front pleats and C’s fly front (but I used my own method to do the fly). These are delicious – SO comfortable and way more instantly wearable for me.

Vintage culottesVintage culottes This third pair is my favourite – view B again, with added slash side pockets and a centre back invisible zip instead of the fly. This is an ex-Whistles viscose which you might recognise from a previous make. I liked it so much I bought more during a recent sewcialist trip to Walthamstow (I think Fiona and Portia nabbed some too so look out for it cropping up, heh). It’s amazing to wear but a bit shifty when cutting – it was an effort to get those rows of scribbly dots nicely lined up all around.

Vintage culottes Vintage culottes

Each view was super fast to sew up – like 90 minutes, tops. I typically don’t make many projects with fixed waistband and zips because in my head it seems really time-consuming, but it clearly isn’t really. I’d really like to find some nice drapey solid fabrics (crepe? Sandwashed silk? Any other ideas?) to make more of these because I think I’ll want to wear them all the time.  Cool, comfortable and cycle-friendly – what’s not to love?

1395 the third in Nani Iro

Nani Iro V1395

Here’s that third take on Vogue 1395 that I mentioned last time, fresh off the hand-sewing needle! As you can probably tell if you’re a fabric dork like me, this one is made in a super gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze.

Nani Iro V1395

I bought the fabric from Purl Soho in NYC. This pattern is called Spectacle; a sort of very abstracted painterly print of fields, bushes and clouds. It’s utterly beautiful – some of the white is thickly laid on to give it texture and there’s even some metallic mixed up in there. Cutting it out was a bit nerve-wracking, mostly because I only got 2yds and it’s quite narrow, so I really had to squish the pieces on a bit.

Nani Iro V1395

Nani Iro V1395

The print placement is quite lovely on the front but I had to make a seam up the back and it’s not quite so pleasing.

Nani Iro V1395

As I mentioned before, during the cutting stage I merged together the bodice and skirt at the waist seam and cut both the front and back as single pieces. I found on both my previous versions of this dress that the wraparound overlay doesn’t necessarily want to sit exactly over where I placed the waistline seam, so removing it completely means the tie can naturally find the right place to sit on my waist. You then can’t catch the centre bottom edge of the overlay into the waist seam at the back, so it’s hanging completely loose and only joined at the shoulders. I definitely didn’t do any photo outtakes where I flew around like Superman with a cape. Nope.

Nani Iro V1395

I treated the lovely fabric to a bit of rare hand-stitching: catch-stitching to secure the neck bias facing in place and to roll-hem the armholes and skirt hem. My patience didn’t extend to hand-rolling the entire overlay edge – that’s serged, folded back twice and topstitched as I did before. (Not purely laziness by the way, I also figured machine stitching is more secure for the area of the dress that gets stretched and knotted.) Making single fold bias binding is a bit of a nightmare with double gauze, by the way – I had a wobbly, distorted mess with the layers trying to separate themselves and frayed edges all over. But I did enjoy the catch-stitching because you can only pick up the inside layer of the gauze so it’s totally invisible from the outside. Mmm, satisfying.

Nani Iro V1395

I still don’t feel like I’ve got this dress out of my system – there’s 3 or 4 more fabrics in my stash I think it’d be amazing in. By the way, it is Minerva Crafts’ pattern of the week which means it’s 50% off right now… I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’re tempted to make their own now, and I can only encourage you.

A pretty pear

V1395

I recently picked this pattern to remake a bit at random, because it’s just so fun to sew and fills a wardrobe gap for slightly fancy summery frocks. It’s my second take on Vogue 1395 (here’s the first). I wanted to put into practice a couple of minor fitting and design tweaks from last time, as well as trying it in a drapier fabric which it’s better suited to. That makes a pair of 1395s, and this one has pears on, ho ho.

V1395

Besides the fit alterations I made first time, this time I cut front bodice on the fold and did a U-shape neckline instead of the V, added in 1/2″ bodice length (after I removed too much on my first go) and slimmed down the overlay ties a little bit – I did not have enough fabric spare to make them any longer as I wanted to.

V1395

Gah, I adore that wraparound side view. I left the sleeves full and fluttery this time as it seemed to suit the fabric. Personally I find this pattern very flattering on my pear (ho ho, part two) shape because the wide shoulders and slim skirt do a good balancing act.

V1395

I omitted the elastic from the waist casing because I actually think it looks nicer if you let the ties do the gathering on their own. (I’m making a third take on V1395 right now and omitted the waist seam completely, cutting the bodice and skirt as one… will share that when it’s done.)

V1395
V1395

I made self-bias tape to finish the neckline and armholes, and did cheatin’ roll hem for the overlay/tie edges and hem: serged the edge then used that as a guide to turn back twice and stitch into place close to the fold. A bit dirty, but turned out looking quite neat.

v1395

The pear print polyester is from eBay – it’s a very nice poly, with a heavy silky drape and completely opaque so no need to worry about lining. It was definitely harder to work with than the Japanese cotton I made my first 1395 with – lots of slipping and fraying to contend with. One of those fabrics when you heave a sigh of relief as each raw edge gets finished or enclosed, you know what I mean?! Spray starch was my saviour.

V1395

I’m pleased this dress turned out how I imagined, and it got its first wear last night on the lovely Sally‘s Spoolettes hen night. I can see it being regularly pulled out for weddings and family events too. As I mentioned, another one of these is in the works right now using a more daytime-appropriate double gauze. I do love a TNT, especially one so fun to both make and wear!

Darling dancers

Darling Dancer dress

You might have noticed (us Brits do tend to stay pretty quiet and non-hysterical about such things) but it’s been PRETTY HOT in London this week. Like, the hottest it’s been for a decade, hotter than Barbados, trains melting off their tracks, etc. Turns out my wardrobe was quite unprepared for this. When I did my Konmari clear-out I threw out a lot of strictly summery clothing since it’s barely ever hot enough here and I don’t go on enough tropical holidays to justify them. But then a heatwave happens where wearing anything remotely heavy or close-fitting isn’t an option, and after wearing both my Alders I was a bit stuck. So I made this dress over two evenings and wore it the next day: sewing fast fashion, ha.

Darling Dancer dress

I wasn’t going to blog it since it’s yet another Darling Ranges hack, but then I snapped some photos this morning anyway. I don’t know – is it boring to see basically the same pattern over and over, or interesting to see how little variations can create a new look?

Darling Dancer dress

So for this Darling Ranges I used the round-neck alteration, scooping it out a bit more both in depth and width to give skinnier shoulder straps. I simply left off the sleeves, though next time I will nip off half an inch around the armsyces as they’re a bit snug. The edges are all finished with self-bias. Truth be told I only make self bias when I don’t have any suitable ready-made stuff to hand, but it’s really worth it.

Darling Dancer dress

I scooped out the back neckline, too, for maximum breeziness. The skirt’s a gathered rectangle at my current knee-grazing length preference.

Darling Dancer dress

The fabric is Liberty tana lawn in Tiny Dancer print, which I got from Plush Addict during a 20% off sale so it was a bargainous £11.60 a metre. Tana lawn is perfect for a heatwave, so light and breathable. It was the first day I felt comfortable all week! The buttons were in my stash and pick out the chalky blue in the print nicely. All in all a nice easy to wear, easy to sew frock that should get plenty more wear before summer’s out.

Be-zazzled Franken-dress

Darling-Alder

Finally, I made a new dress! I haven’t had much time to sew properly since before New York, so on Sunday and Monday I carved out some time especially to knock out a fun new frock. Plus the fabric’s a bit special too…

Darling-Alder

This is a true Franken-dress by design. The bodice is a sleeveless Darling Ranges, with the shoulder line extended out to make cut-on cap sleeves rather like the Burda 7078 I just made.. The skirt is from the Grainline Alder, lengthened by 3″ from my previous ones.

Darling-Alder

The patterns fudge together fine since you can just adjust the gathering at the top of the Alder skirt to match the bottom bodice edge. I could well have just used my v-neck Alder piece for the top, but I think the DR is just a slightly better fit around the chest and shoulders for me.

Darling-Alder
Darling-Alder

I love the drama of the full, swoopy Alder skirt at the back, especially when lengthened. Lots of swish-factor!

kimono sleeve

Tip for converting a sleeveless dress into a kimono sleeve: you’ll want to raise the pitch (angle) of the shoulder line or you’ll find it a bit tight and hard to move your arm up and down. You may also need to drop where it hits the bodice by an inch or so for more wiggle-room. I’m sure there’s a more technical way to make this adjustment, but eyeballing the angles and drawing straight lines worked for me.

Darling-Alder

OK, the fabric! I was really excited to be asked by Zazzle to try out their custom fabric offering recently. You can choose from their premade design library (there are some really cute ones), customise a design, or upload your own design entirely – which, being the control freak type, I went for. It was super easy to add my design (a simple moon and stars repeat that I made in Illustrator) and I was amazed that the fabric took only three days to get to my door from the US.

Darling-Alder

(I didn’t mean to have the print going in opposite directions on the bodice and skirt by the way, oops.) This is a Pima cotton, described by Zazzle as ‘high-quality, luxurious fabric… extremely soft to the touch and easy to work with…’ I’m REALLY happy with this fabric and would say the description is totally accurate. The handle reminds me of a cotton sateen but without the stretch – it’s smooth and silky, more drapey than crisp. The print is good and sharp and it doesn’t have that papery or coated feel like some digitally printed fabrics do. It had a slight inky smell but that was removed in the prewash (a 40 degree delicates cycle). Zazzle promise no colour fade despite their eco-friendly inks, and I didn’t notice any fading in my prewash. I’m keen to see if that keeps up as I wash the dress some more.

Darling-Alder

I’m really pleased that this dress turned out how I imagined in my head, and that it’s super unique thanks to the Franken-pattern and me-designed fabric. The question is will I ever make a non-buttony-up dress again? The jury’s out.

Zazzle gave me a voucher to try out and review their fabric printing service. Views my own!