Category Archives: Self-drafted

Lil’ black dress

Self-draft dress

You may have spied this dress in my MMM update – I’ve worn it twice already in May so it’s definitely on course to becoming a wardrobe staple. Like some of my other recent self-drafts I think it hits that sweet spot between low-key but not boring, and hence extremely everyday-wearable.

Self-draft dress
Self-draft dress

It’s a self-draft from my block – a very simple one in fact. I just added a bit of waist ease to my princess seam bodice, slashed out the skirt to include gathers, and added side pockets. I wanted to incorporate a shoulder-to-waist princess seam so that I could trim it with this gorgeous woven ribbon that I bought in Paris last year and have been hoarding for exactly this purpose. I only bought a metre as it was quite expensive, and luckily that was just enough to trim the seams and cross the front waist – I used every last mm of it. Check out Minerva’s ribbon selection for some alternatives: these two are quite similar, or how about some cats?

Self-draft dress

To enhance the ribbon design I picked a complementary embroidery stitch on my machine to hem the sleeves. I really dig how the white stitching looks against the plain black fabric – memo to self to play more with built-in stitches sometime.

Self-draft dress

Furthering my button obsession, I put them all the way down the back. I thought it reflected the folksy kind of feel. Luckily I can actually get the dress on and off without having to undo any of them! Having worn it a bit I reckon I need to put a few extra buttons on the skirt portion as it doesn’t feel 100% secure.

Self-draft dress

This is my Minerva network project for this month, and I used their linen-look cotton fabric in black. I was intending to make trousers initially but I think the fabric is a touch too lightweight and not quite fully opaque. It makes a great dress though and was super to work with – crisp and non-fraying – and feels delicious to wear. The fabric comes in an enticing range of colours and at £4.99/m is a real bargain. Check out Amy’s vintage Vogue in the burgundy version. Yeah, I think I’ll be needing some of that colour next.

Self-draft dress

Yay for a non-boring little black dress that’ll see me through summer and beyond!

Two recent self-drafts

I find it funny how sometimes fabrics languish in your stash for years, and others skip the queue completely and get whipped up fresh from the pre-wash. Often I find I’m much less precious about cheaper fabrics, and willing to merrily hack into them without weighing up all the options of what it might want to become. So it was with these two frocks, both made from recently purchased cheap fabric, and both self-drafts from my blocks.

Button-back dress

I’m a bit smug about this first one. This delicious viscose cost £3 a metre and I was alerted on Instagram that Whistles is using exactly the same stuff for a £110 dress – am I ever glad I can sew. Amy and I both grabbed some of it from Fabric Mart in Walthamstow when we did a super fun little fabric crawl afternoon a couple of weeks ago.

Button-back dress

You might have noticed from my previous projects that I’m a bit of a button addict. I can’t explain it, but it’s definitely a struggle to not make every project I make a buttondown dress. To avoid a very samey wardrobe, this time I moved the buttons… to the back. This pin provided the inspiration , and it was a dead easy mod from my block to make the pattern:

Button-back dress

1. Rotate the front bodice shoulder dart into the waist dart, and convert some of the dart fullness into ease.
2. Convert all of the back bodice dart fullness into ease, and cut the V-back. Add on the extra width for the button placket at the centre back.
3. Skirt is two rectangles, gathered onto the bodice with elastic. Done!

Button-back dress

This was an evening’s project from drafting to finishing, and it’s already become one of those dresses that I’m always reaching for and rushing through the laundry so I can wear it again. Love the fabric, love the length, so pleased the button-back detail worked out. I’ve saved the pattern to use again for the next perfect fabric to come along.

Scuba dress

The second one uses some excellent marble-print scuba from Saeed’s Fabrics also in Walthamstow. I even overlooked my usual aversion to white because it’s just so cool looking. I used my princess seam bodice block, and the skirt has soft pleats in the front and gathers at the back.

Scuba dress

I scooped out the back neckline here too – I think it adds a certain daintiness.

Scuba dress

The fabric was fun to work with – it’s quite a light scuba, probably about the weight of ponte but definitely scuba-y: it even smelled like wetsuit when I steamed it. I overlocked all the seams, and used Megan’s technique for neckline binding. The hem is left raw since it seemed to hang nicely and won’t fray.

By the way, I’m not doing Me-Made May :( work is so busy at the moment and I don’t really feel like documenting what I wear every day. But I’m on a good 80% at least me-made days lately anyway, and I’ll just enjoy seeing everyone else’s posts!

Christmas sewing

xmasgifts

Phew, it’s all over for another year, and I can show all the things I made for gifts now they’re with their recipients! I was pretty sly with my project choices – making gifts gets a rep for being a stressful undertaking but I really enjoyed it. Basically I see it as an excuse to buy (or stashbust) fabric and to sew a lot, but for selfless ends – win win! I also went for either quick/fun knit projects or things i wouldn’t normally pick for myself, so it was fun to try some new types of garment out.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

I made Simplicity 1620 top for my aunt Mandy out of a gorgeous John Kaldor viscose jersey from Stitch Fabrics. A nice quick project all on the overlocker – I just removed a wedge from front and back neck (narrow shoulders and hollow chests run in the family) and sized way down as I was using a knit instead of woven and the ease is typically ridiculous. I also self-lined the yoke burrito-style to finish the neckline and arms; the pattern doesn’t specify that but it made sense to me. The pattern is the cover gift on Sew magazine this month if you’re interested.

Christmas sewing

My mum got another version of a dress I made for her birthday back in September (I didn’t blog them at the time but here’s a photo). It’s a self-draft rub-off of one of her favourite dresses that she gave me to copy. It wasn’t a very complex shape to reproduce – separate waistband, slashed-and-gathered neckline and front skirt, yoked pockets – and the fit turned out bang-on so it was just a case of making it up again. The fabric’s a rather nice snuggly knitted-effect jersey from Abakhan. She loved it and it looks fabulous on her – I’ll try to get a photo as I bet she’ll wear it for new year’s and you can’t see the shape on the hanger.

Christmas sewing

I also made my mum a Love Notions Trendy Tunic using more John Kaldor jersey from my stash. I was disappointed with this pattern though; nothing seemed to line up properly and the drafting is pretty wack, with the arms being very tight and a load of excess fabric pooling in the back. I should have stuck with self-drafting as it ended up not fitting/suiting her unfortunately. In fact my recipients ended up having a bit of a switcheroo – this top ended up with Mandy (who wore it Boxing Day and it looked great on her), and Mandy gave her 1620 top to my other aunt Christine who it suited better. Hey, if everything ended up with a happy recipient I don’t mind! I probably wouldn’t make so many ‘surprise’ garments again though as I learned it’s pretty hard to predict someone’s sizing and taste, even close family.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

For my little sister I made a Dixie DIY ballet dress from some Liberty jersey – I happily grabbed the very last 1.5m of this while it was on sale in the store itself. (If you recognised the Shavings and Sharpenings print, I’ve used the same print in tana lawn to make myself a dress too.) I’ve made this pattern for her before so knew it’d fit, and she immediately wore it for the rest of Christmas Day so it was definitely a hit.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

At last minute I also made her a set of Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees out of two quilting cottons I bought with her in mind (she loves foxes, remember?). I had the pattern and notions all ready from early Dec but thought I’d run out of time to make them. Turns out they were a fairly quick sew, even with my decision to fully line them and try to achieve a semi-reversible finish. I kind of winged the construction order/method but ended up with quite a clean result – don’t ask how! It luckily fitted perfectly and I’m sure we’ll make another pair for her sometime, it’s a fab pattern. I quite fancy a corduroy dress version for myself actually.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

I was incredibly touched to receive a beautiful handmade gift back from Natty. She’s been learning to sew over the last few months, taking two courses at Ray Stitch and suffering my very poor tutelage occasionally in between. She made me this stitchy-themed holdall bag, and I seriously couldn’t have done a nicer job myself. Her piping and topstitching are totally on point and I was so touched that she pushed herself to make something like this for me when she’s still a beginner. I nearly cried!

Christmas sewing

Finally, a few other sewing-related gifts I was delighted to receive. Dorky stuff: a mini iron! Thread rack and stock of threads, Chaco chalk pen, double tracing wheel, new zip foot! Fancy brass scissors and a kitty tape dispenser to make PDFs more fun. And fitting and pattern drafting books which I had my nose buried in all Christmas day. Sewing honestly brought me quite a lot of extra Christmas joy, both in the giving and receiving of handmade gifts. I can’t wait to get back to the machine now.

Icy winter wedding frock

Self-draft dress

Classic sewist situation: a family wedding at the weekend with people who know I sew and will definitely ask if I’m wearing a me-made… so naturally a new frock was called for, since I don’t have a stock of fancy frosting dresses to pull out for special occasions. I didn’t have much time to make something, so stuck with an easy but statement fabric and guaranteed fit by using my block with minimal adjustments.

Self-draft dress

As it turned out I nearly didn’t make it to the wedding at all due to a suspected case of norovirus (which was luckily a false alarm) though I was feeling decidedly peaky all day anyway, hence these rather rushed photos and my sallow face. Shame as the wedding was set in beautiful grounds and it was a nice day for mid-December.

Here’s what I did to my block to make this dress:

soft pleat dress

1. Rotated the shoulder darts into the waist darts on the front bodice. Cut the front and back bodice with about 1″ extra ease at the side seam.

2. Cut the skirt front and back with about 1″ extra ease at the side seam too, tapering out to about 3″ extra at the hem for a gentle A-line.

3. Instead of sewing all the darts as normal I just folded and stitched them down between the notches as soft pleats, all tucked towards the centre. Easy!

Self-draft dress

Since the dart placement already matched on my skirt and bodice block, the pleats match up nicely too.

Self-draft dress

The fabric is lovely stuff that I bought as a 1.75m remnant at El Palacio de las Telas in Mexico; I’m not sure if it has a bit of silk in or it’s all synthetic. It was drapey enough for the soft pleats yet sturdy enough to be fairly easy to work with, and didn’t require lining which saved a bit more time. I didn’t have loads of spare fabric to play with but tried to do a cool print placement on the front at least, with the dark area concentrated in the centre.

Self-draft dress

It’s got a mix of serged and French seams, a side invisible zip, and blind hems on the hem and sleeves. The bias-faced neckline is slipstitched down by hand.

Self-draft dress

This dress was supremely comfortable to wear, due to the good fit and little extra ease I added. Definitely a frock I can roll out again for other occasions, and I may use the same pattern again in a more casual fabric for a day dress.

Weird Winter Centaurée

Winter Centaurée

This was a funny little experiment in pattern hacking/self-drafting. I’m not sure how I feel about the result – it’s a bit odd! Basically it’s a cold-weather-appropriate spin on the Deer & Doe Centaurée dress. I knew I wanted to try this hack as that bodice is simply too nice to only wear in summer (previous versions here & here). Fact fans: Centaurée is the much less pretty-sounding ‘knapweed’ in English – all D&D’s patterns are named after plants and flowers. I think this dress is definitely more knapweed, ha ha.

Winter Centaurée

It was a pretty straightforward hack to convert it from sundress to smock-ish dress. I traced off the Centaurée front bodice pieces and removed the seam allowances, then overlaid these onto my bodice block to see what kind of modifications I needed to make. I realised that the bodice’s top seams are basically a horizontal princess seam, with the darts rotated to the centre and side instead of up and down. Here’s briefly how I altered my block:

centaureedraft

1. Rotate darts to the lower armsyce and centre front, using the Centauree pieces as a guide.
2. Snip through the rotation apex.
3. Round off the sharp corners.
4. Cut the bottom into a separate piece, using the Centaurée pieces as a guide. At the last minute I also cut the top piece diagonally to reflect the original neckline – 8 piece bodice, yo.
Then just re-add seam allowances and sew per the Centaurée. The back and sleeves are straight off my block.

Winter Centaurée

So I’m not sure what is making the dress feel a bit weird. I think it’s partly the fabric, which is a double-faced lightweight corduroy I bought from Miss Matatabi. It’s lovely fabric – I originally bought it for pants but changed my mind – but something about it with this dress is giving me a gothy/grungy vibe which isn’t very me. It was great to sew with though and I love that the dress looks lined thanks to the stripy backing, which I’ve also turned back on the cuffs.

Winter Centaurée

It also fits well, it’s nicely made and comfortable, so it’s not those things. Perhaps it’s the design itself and the Centaurée really doesn’t want to be a sleeved dress? Anyway it was fun to kind of reverse-engineer the pattern and figure out how to draft something like this, so I’m pleased I made it, and I have worn it despite my reservations. I may well have a go at a v2 sometime – I’m thinking a cheerier floral or chambray would be nice. What do you think – odd or cool?

Autumn uniform ii: Mountain-Plantain

Plantain + Cardigan

Like my Coco-Sandra, this outfit is another one I’ll be wearing all autumn. I wasn’t going to blog the dress since it’s pretty darn basic, but I snapped some photos of this outfit in the morning when I wore it because I happened to have made the cardigan too. I love a 100% me-made day!

Plantain dress

The dress is a Deer & Doe Plantain tee ‘hack’, which you can find Anna’s tutorial for here. It’s made from one of Leah Duncan’s newest collection for Art Gallery, which I got from M is for Make (though it’s nearly sold out – Finch Sewing Studio have it for a good price too). I was interested to see what the quality is like of the Art Gallery knits, and overall I’m pretty happy with it. I’d call it a light-medium weight, but it’s stable and easy to stitch. It’s got plenty of 4-way stretch and good recovery. Ideal for a tee or babydoll dress really, and I reckon it’d make some pretty comfy leggings too. I’ve washed it a few times already and it seems to be holding up well.

Plantain dress

This was a no-brainer sew – all overlocked and the hem straight stitched since it doesn’t need to stretch. I should really have tried harder with lining up the print because the waistline is a bit skewiff and the mountains are upside down on the skirt and sleeves, ooops. It’s kind of a secret pyjama dress – sooo comfortable – which is why it’s shot to the top of my most-worn list despite the wobbly bits. Must make more!

Cardigan

I made the cardigan pattern myself by tracing off a very beloved Madewell knit that I bought last winter. It was really simple to trace and sew – I made the entire thing from pattern to finishing in an evening. The fabric is a cable textured double-layered knit from Minerva. It’s only £3.99/m and is really snuggly since there are actually two layers of knit bonded together.

Cardigan

It’s got a raglan sleeve construction with the hem and neck bands sewn on afterwards. I topstitched down the overlocking around the neckband to encourage it to stay flipped outwards. I put buttons on for that genuine knitted cardigan effect but didn’t bother with buttonholes since I’ll never wear it closed, ha.

Plantain + Cardigan

Unfortunately it turned out just a little bit too small all over, mostly because I didn’t allow for the fabric I chose having much less stretch than the original cardigan. Next time I’ll just add an inch or so all over and perhaps choose a looser fabric. It’s finally actually starting to feel cold here in London so I think Project Coat will be my next big project.