Category Archives: Megan Nielsen

Two simple smocks

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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 !

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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.

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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.

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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.

Silk Dove

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Katie in pale colour shocker! Seriously, all of my 2016 makes have been embarrassingly samey dark shades. My black overlocker spools even ran out, so that was a good kick to embrace the light side. I may also be in seasonal denial, as summer ends and we head into my least favourite time of year, by making a silk sleeveless blouse…

Dove

This is the Dove blouse, the new pattern from Megan Nielsen, which she kindly sent me a pre-release of to try out. It’s a very pretty semi-fitted top with a host of yummy design details like French bust darts, chunky topstitched facings for the V-neck and curvy hem, and a slew of sleeve options, from slim elbow-length to fabulous full-on bell.

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Being me and unable to leave a good pattern alone, I eschewed all the sleeve options, instead adding little rectangular caps and finishing the rest of the armsyce with bias facing. I’ve come to realise that any woven garment with a set-in sleeve rarely gets reached for in my wardrobe unless the drafting is 100% spot-on, plus I’m always overly warm rather than cold so it isn’t actually all that seaosnally-inappropriate. I’ll do a tutorial for the hack if anyone’s interested.

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As usual from Megan’s patterns, the instructions are clear and well-illustrated, and the drafting is just a delight – this was so pleasurable to sew and all came together in a few hours. I cut a Large, which is bigger than my measurements but I like a lot of ease in woven tops. It still fits really nicely around the neck and shoulders, though it dips a bit too long in the back for my preference – I’ll take some length out next time.

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I think the fabric makes this top feel rather special. It’s undyed silk noil from The Organic Textile Company; a bargain at £8.95 a metre. This is probably my number-one fabric both to work with and to wear yet I’ve only used it once before. It’s pretty hard to find in any colours or prints but this raw slubby cream is rather beautiful, albeit out of my usual palette comfort zone. (It does take dye well however, so I’m going to buy more to self-colour.) Some up-close inside shots to show the texture and finishing:

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Self-bias faced armholes and the faced, topstitched neckline.

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The hem facing and centre-front seam.

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French-seamed shoulder seam and French bust dart in the background, the ‘legs’ of which are cut out, so raw edges are overlocked after it’s sewn together.

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The rather directional design details, not to mention the colour, feel a little ‘out there’ for my usual/current style, but I do love it and expect it will get lots of wear. It looks so good with denim (Safran jeans here) and the relaxed shape and dream fabric make it super comfy. Here’s hoping I don’t spill coffee/wine/spaghetti down it too soon… perhaps the real reason I usually stick to dark colours.

Thanks again to Megan for sending me the Dove pattern to try! You can pick it up for 20% off until Friday using the code HELLODOVE.

Sudley

Sudley dress

Megan Nielsen kindly sent me along one of her recent patterns, the Sudley dress, to try out. It was just the thing I needed at a time when my sewing time and motivation has been quite low: easy-peasy, fast, no fitting – from machine to body in a morning.

Sudley dress

It’s essentially a loose smock dress, but there are are a ton of options included in the pattern to make it very versatile. You can make an empire or drop waist dress or a blouse, with an optional peter pan collar and ties on the keyhole opening. Also it’s reversible so you can wear the keyhole in the front or back!

Sudley dress

I think it’s more ‘me’ the other way around, but I’d like to try this way with the collar attached. The bodice is self-lined making a neat finish on the neckline edge. The instructions include a full clean finish inside with the armsyce edges handstitched down, but I got lazy and overlocked them as one piece.

Sudley dress

I cut size small but with the bodice length of the biggest size, as empire line isn’t the best look on me. I ended up tapering in the waist a bit, mainly because I didn’t have enough fabric to do the skirt as patterned so just gathered up my fabric width. The fabric is a viscose from Walthamstow – either the Textile Centre or Man Outside Sainsburys, I can’t remember.

Sudley dress

This is a great little instant gratification project that’s a very useful wardrobe builder. It’s good with tights or without and is the kind of thing that’s so easy to pull on for work and be instantly dressed. Pretty sure I’ll be picking it up to use again – the blouse option will make a great woven tee basic. Thanks Megan for sending along the Sudley pattern!

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?

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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.

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

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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

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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…

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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!

Bossed: Darling Ranges

Darling Ranges

Sorry, back to buttony dresses after a brief diversion! This was actually the very first one I made, which kickstarted my little obsession. You have the lovely Amy of Almond Rock to blame, because we did a Sew Bossy swap and this dress is the result of my lovely swap package. We decided to do Sew Bossy together because we have pretty similar taste in fabrics and projects. And yup, safe to say I pretty much love this dress. Amy picked me the Darling Ranges pattern, some monochrome slinky viscose and some pretty pearl buttons.

Darling Ranges

As I mentioned, the fit of the Darling Ranges was pretty great on me out of the packet. I cut the size S which matched my upper measurements – hips too big like normal but the gathered skirt is forgiving – grading to XS at the shoulder. I made a couple of my normal adjustments – raising the waist, shortening the skirt – but I’m very impressed with the fit out of the packet otherwise. It’s kind of loose-fitting but doesn’t look oversized, since the shoulders and bust fit well. I left off the optional cinching waist ties since I like how it looks as it is.

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I’m definitely more of a round than v-neck person but decided to sew the pattern up as written in the spirit of Sew Bossy. It’s a little bit lower than what I’d usually go for, but it doesn’t gape at all. I’ve tacked it closed just above the top button.

Darling Ranges

I’m not usually an in-seam pocket fan as I think they add hip bulk and make skirts hang funny, but went ahead and added them here. I can’t keep my phone in them without distorting the skirt, so maintain they’re useless except for awkward hands. Umm, and looking at these photos I’m going to check the sleeves are the same length because they look way off here (I just rolled and tacked them down).

Darling Ranges

I feel quite chic in this dress – it’s rather Whistles, no? And it gained my first ‘I love your dress, where did you get it?’ compliment from someone who doesn’t know I sew: definitely a Bossy Win. I can see even more Darling Ranges in my future (I like the look of the dartless tunic variation) after a bit of a break for something different. Be sure to hop over to my swap partner in crime Amy’s blog and see what she made with the kit I sent her.