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Taking on Claudia

This is the face of someone who had a whale of a time getting the fit right on this dress but is in love it now it’s done. It’s a Tessuti Patterns Claudia dress in a dreamy printed rayon from Blackbird Fabrics.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen I went through a heck of a process to fit this pattern – which I found a little surprising as during my research/browsing of the pattern it looks so lovely and effortless on everyone, and no one especially mentioned fit issues. Luckily I toiled first as I knew I wanted to get this difficult-to-fit style right before cutting into my eventual fabric.

I cut a Small originally according to my exact current measurements, but this first toile was way too baggy all over. You can check out the entire fitting process I went through on my saved Instagram story, but to summarise, my eventual adjustments totalled: graded to smaller than the XXS size at the underarm (?!); cut as XS through the rest of the bodice grading back out to a Small below the waist; pivoted some gaping out of the neckline and armsyce into the dart; moved the dart point significantly inwards and upwards; reduced the strap length by about a third.

In short: I recommend that you toile this pattern and size down!

I tackled the adjustments over several sessions + three toiles and while it all sounds quite crazy I rather enjoyed the process, especially as the resulting fit through the upper chest and armsyce is really pretty perfect (however much it’s exposing my awkward armpit tan line).

Luckily the fitting of the bottom half was issue-free, I love the skimming fit and especially enjoy the clean-finished mitres of the bottom hem and side splits. The length is as patterned which comes to mid calf on me. I omitted the Useless Inseam Pockets which saved some additional stress: on a future one I might consider a more practical patch pocket or even a matching belt bag.

I constructed the top half my own way ie in the flat as much as possible, and redrafted the facings off my altered bodice pieces. I’ve got to say, I am not a fan in general of the usability of Tessuti’s patterns; I find the strange Vilene-shield-based instructions and extraneous pattern pieces hard to justify when so few people will be familiar with or able to get hold of it, and I find the print at home PDFs very wasteful – I printed 48 sheets and the pattern pieces themselves are quite small so this seemed excessive and down to an inefficient layout.

But anyway, I do loooove this dress. I wore it all evening after I finished it, and it was a match made in heaven for this fabric with its floaty Matisse-cutouts vibes. Nb. the pattern explicitly recommends structured over lightweight fabrics, but it seems totally fine in this very fluid voile.

I am already planning a second one in a solid dusky purple linen as this one is so glorious to wear in our lovely warm spring weather – even if it’s still mainly around the house for now – and I expect they will layer well with a T-shirt for slightly cooler weather too.

Isolation-fit: Strathcona & Philippa

I’ve made this entire outfit over the last week: I guess self-isolation was the kick needed to get back into sewing and even my extremely-long-neglected knitting habit. Desperate times…!

The trousers are a second pair of Anna Allen Philippa Pants – first pair here, which I wear an awful lot, so decided to recreate in a different colour of similar fabric – in this case, beautiful Coffee Bean Jumbo Cord from Merchant & Mills.

This fabric has a lot less stretch than my first pair, but I have lost some weight over the last few months, so I cut the same size as before with all my prior adjustments. I had to take in the side seams a little more once constructed to get the close fit I was after. I’m getting similar wrinkles all over the back leg to last time which may mean that a low butt or full back thigh adjustment is needed next time.

Like last time I added a stay into the front and swapped the button fly for a simple zip. I followed Charlie’s recent tutorial for getting a sharp corner on the waistband: I’ve done this so many times now but it’s always good to sense-check your approach with how someone else gets good results, and I like the simple steps she recommends a lot.

The sweater is the famous and much-loved Strathcona by Good Night Day. Fun fact, I used to be an extremely prolific knitter in my early 20s but it really fell by the wayside once I got into sewing – I just don’t have the patience to see a long project through and I’ve eagerly started many sweaters in the interim years only to abandon them partway. However the Strathcona is both super-chunky and very small (thanks to the shrunken fit and 3/4 sleeves) and literally worked up so fast that I didn’t have time to run out of steam once. I had it finished over a week of very casual knitting sessions and it really just worked up in front of my eyes.

I feel like while I still have the basic muscle memory for knitting and can follow instructions with ease, I have lost a lot of finesse with getting good tension and techniques, so the sweater isn’t that amazingly well made. In particular I’m annoyed that the M1 technique I used (the pattern doesn’t give a specific technique) has left uneven lacy holes down the raglan armsyces which I’d prefer would look solid – I’m wearing a black tee underneath here as it looks pretty weird otherwise. I did a pick-up-and-knit-tbl but I think kfb would have been better.

I made the smaller size of the pattern and I like the fit being a bit snugger than how it looks in the pattern photos and on other people. I tried it on regularly (the joys of top-down knitting) to check the body and sleeve length and ended both with a deeper layer of ribbing than in the pattern (12 rows instead of 4). The yarn is Debbie Bliss Roma, a chunky wool/alpaca blend which I bought from LoveCrafts – I only used 4 balls!

The pants are the first project I’ve completely sewn on my new machine by the way – I was lucky enough to get a Pfaff Ambition 630 for my birthday back in January. It coped more than admirably and I will be writing up some more detailed thoughts on the machine soon if you’re interested. Here’s to more isolation-sewing, and maybe even knitting…

Super happy fun Holly

Holly dress

All right, one last fun little make before I sign off for Christmas. This dress just makes me happy! It all came together quite organically and turned out exactly how I planned in my head. I needed that after coat-gate and a lot of selfless Christmas stitching.

Holly dress

I used the BHL Holly bodice, sized up to a 14 like my previous ones for a looser fit, and popped in a metal zip instead of buttons. Gotta love a TNT bodice and all the variations it can give you once the fit is perfected.

Holly dress

THIS FABRIC THOUGH. 1.5m of it accidentally slipped into my Shaukat shopping cart when I ordered some Liberty fabrics for Christmas gifts. It’s called Peter Woodward and omg it has tiny manga-style lions, dragons and unicorns all over it. I love how it’s basically a total novelty print but the muted colourway keeps it quite subtle. Looking down at those happy little animal faces really makes me smile though.

Holly dress

The skirt is simply the width of the fabric gathered to fit at the top – I didn’t have enough yardage for anything else. Tana lawn is about 53″ wide so it’s a slimmer fit than I usually make with gathered skirts but I like the resulting shape a lot. It does hella cling to tights though, I need to buy/make a slip.

Holly dress

The zip was a last minute decision. I was going to do buttons on the bodice ending at the waist, but thought a metal zip might offset the cute-factor of the print a bit. There are no other fastenings on the dress, so undoing the zip does give a bit of extra wiggle room to get in and out of it.

Holly dress

OK, I think that’s me out for now – off for some family time and hoping Santa brought me all the sewing goodies I asked for. Have a great one, everyone!