Saturday, 13 July 2019

A tale of two shirtdresses

I seem to be all about the shirtdresses at the minute, and have made three in a row.  The first was the Sew Over It Penny dress here, these are the next two.

Both are self-drafted, and the first is made from this gorgeous Hill-Berg Fabrics poppy print quilting cotton.  This came from the @dressmakersanonymousbelfast fabric swap earlier this year.  



I am especially pleased with my Olympic standard pattern tetrising on this, because the fabric is 2 metres long and about 45 inches wide.  Sometimes being small has it's benefits!

The bodice has princess seams, as I'm finding these are a better fit for my full bust; the collar is a two piece shirt collar, and the skirt is gathered rectangles.  Also, it has pockets.

Here's my top tip on gathering cotton fabric - don't use cotton thread!  I'd put the stitch length to 5.0mm and turned the thread tension to zero, and the thread refused to gather up.  So I ended up unpicking it and using silk thread, which worked perfectly.

The black buttons came from a big bag I bought on ebay, and I flipping love this dress!


The second dress is also self-drafted.  The bodice is the same as the dress above, but it has a convertible collar and placket facing.  

The skirt is a self-drafted half-circle skirt, and I used the same drafting method as on my Penny Dress.

This dress is all about the fabric, and isn't it amazing?!   I got it from Oh! Sew, which is a gorgeous new fabric shop that opened in Northern Ireland after Easter.  Fabric shops are pretty thin on the ground in NI, so I was understandably excited about this and had to go on the day it opened, which is when I bought this cotton poplin.  And if you happen to find yourself in this part of the planet, then I can recommend a visit! 


Accidental print matching on the collar :)

My long-suffering sister (who doesn't sew) got trailed along with me to the shop, and she doodled this little inspiration picture when we got some lunch in the cafe next door.  As she said to me "I'll draw them, you make them!".  I also flipping love this dress too!


Have a great weekend,


Friday, 28 June 2019

Sew Over It Penny Dress

I've made three shirtdresses recently, but the other two are for another post.    This one is the Sew Over It Penny dress.  I liked the look of the looser fit on this dress (the waist is gathered with an elastic channel), and it's a bit different from the other shirtdresses that I've made before. 

I couldn't decide between a size 8 and size 10, so went with the size 10 to allow for a bit of room in the bust.  Also, and brace yourself (!!), I didn't make a toile.  Annnnnd, the bodice was too big.  So I took it in by 1/2" on each side seam, and took a generous inch off the grow on sleeves.

The instructions for the placket had me scratching my head, but then I found this great post from the Sew Over It blog, which explained it perfectly. 

I love this yoke detail on the shoulders.
On the other hand, the bodice length was perfect on me, as I've seen a few people saying it was a bit short.  I also changed the full circle skirt to a half circle skirt.  This was because I felt the full circle would be too much fabric on my small frame, and also, much less fabric to hem. 



I drafted the half circle skirt using the instructions in a book called Freehand Fashion by Chinelo Bally (who, you may remember, was on The Great British Sewing Bee and was a-maz-ing).

I measured the waist seam on the front and back of the bodice, including the seam allowances - this gives half the measurement for the front and back waist.  For the bodice front, I measured to the centre of the finished button placket.

In interests of full disclosure - I am absolutely useless at maths; so if I can do this, then so can anybody.  Here's what I did:

My front measurement was 25.75 cm, and the back was 27 cm.

Multiply the measurement by 4, then divide by 3.14.  So my sums were -


27cm x 4 = 108 cm

108cm divided by 3.14 = 34.39.  Round this down to 34 cm


25.75 cm x 4 = 103 cm

103 cm divided by 3.14 = 32.8.  Round this down to 32.5 cm.

If you're making a size 10, then these numbers will work.

Then you get a bit of paper which has all the sides longer than the calculated measurements, I used some drawing paper from Ikea that comes on a roll.  One corner needs to be a right angle, so I used my pattern drafting ruler to make sure it was.  Fold the paper so the two sides of the right angle meet each other, like if you were making a paper plane.

I'm over-complicating!  Look at the two photos below, the first is folded, the second is unfold.

Then get a ruler, and measure from the point of the page (where the pen is pointing to in the photo below) along boths edges with the calculated measurements and mark it.  I think there's a fancy mathematical term for this - I have no clue what it is!  In the photo below I measuring 34 cm for the back.

Then use the ruler to measure from the point of the page along the width of the page.  These are the two lines marked in black (ignore the pencil line with the Xs through it!).  This will be the waist line for the back and front, and will be the same as your calculated measurement.

In the above photo you can see two lines marked 27cm Back and 25.75 Front, because both can be done on the same bit of paper! 

Trace the waist line onto some pattern paper, then extend the side edges down to the skirt length including waist seam allowance and hem, and measure down along the waist line for the skirt hem.  One edge will be the centre front/back, and the other the side seam, and the pieces get cut out on the fold.  

Alternatively, you can use one of those tracing wheel thingies to go over the waistlines onto the folded page below, then fold it out and mark the entire waist as in the below photo.  Extend the side edges and waist to hem for the skirt length, and the pieces can be cut out on a single layer.

This includes the seam allowances, so you don't even need to add them on afterwards!  Hurray!!  (Geez, that was long more long-winded than I expected - hope it makes sense!).

Because I have a separate skirt front and back, I have side seams; and than means I have pockets...  

The fabric is some red gingham from ebay.  It looks a bit like seer sucker, and I thought it was cotton, but I think there's a bit of  poly in it.  

This isn't my favourite of my three shirtdresses, but it's growing on me and it's great for the lovely weather we're having this week, which is about flipping time!

Have a great weekend,


Saturday, 8 June 2019

Deer and Doe Luzerne Coat - 2019 Make Nine #4

This is the Deer and Doe Luzerne Coat and is number 4 of my 2019 Make Nine.

It's described as:

"Close-fitting, unlined, double-breasted trench coat with princess seams. Pleats at front and back, diagonal welt pockets, and two-piece sleeves"

I made a size 38 for the bodice and sleeves, and graded out to as size 40 at the waist.  I shortened the sleeves (and need to turn them up a bit more!), but didn't shorten the bodice (which is, frankly, astonishing), and lengthened the skirt.  I wanted something that would cover the skirt of my dresses, and as I have the PDF pattern, used the skirt length on the size 52 which is the largest size. 


I didn't make the belt, because it would have got lost in no time; and didn't add the back tab because I didn't have enough buttons for it.  Also, I thought it would be a bit uncomfortable to sit in with a button digging into my back.

I also didn't make the bound buttonholes as on the pattern, and just machined buttonholes.

The pattern has the following pieces to be interfaced:
  • Two of the four front bodice pieces - Piece 1
  • One of the two back yoke pieces - Piece 3
  • One of the two collar and collar stand pieces - Pieces 13 and 12

But I also interfaced:
  • Both skirt front facings - Piece 11
  • Both pocket welts - Piece 9
  • Both sleeve tabs - Piece 16
This was because I just felt that these pieces would require a bit more stability.

My fabric is some polyester crepe from The Textile Centre.  I had 3 metres of this, and the pattern calls for 3.6 metres, but with some pattern tetris I had fabric to spare.  My buttons were harvested from my first Pavot Coat,  and the bias binding for the seams is from ebay.  The innards photos below aren't brilliant, but it gives an idea of how the binding is used.

As with all Deer and Doe patterns, the instructions are brief, but easy to follow and understand.  

There were a few mistakes along the way (my fault - not the pattern), I won't bore you with them, but I feel that if you don't make a mistake on a coat, you're not doing it right!

I love this coat, and it's perfect for this time of year because we've had a lot of rain in Belfast lately, which is very unamusing!

Have a great weekend,


Sunday, 26 May 2019

Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses - Popover Dress

This is a quick post about a quick make!!  It's the Popover Dress from Gretchen Hirsch's newest book, "Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses".

As it's name suggests, all five dresses in the book are quick makes, and this is the first pattern and also the dress on the cover.   

My fabric is some red embriodery anglaise that I got on ebay a few years ago.  It had been languishing in the stash for too long without a purpose; but as soon as I saw this dress, I knew that's what it had to be.


This dress has exactly two pattern pieces (well, four, if you count the optional patch pockets and shoulder bows).  The body is cut four times - two fronts and two backs, and the other piece is the bias facing for the armholes.  It can be worn with a belt, or the middle can be gathered with elastic shirring as on the second sample in the book. 

Being small, I made the following mods:
  • Distance between armhole and shoulder shorted by 15mm.  I did this by extending the grainline up to the neckline, then drawing a line at a right angle.  I then used this as a length/shorten line.  This meant I had to re-draw the neckline a bit.
  • Skirt shortened by 15 cm.
Because I'd shorten the armhole, it meant the bias facing for the armhole was too long, so I just used some red bias tape for that.  But I think when I make it again, I'll raise the underarm a bit.

I didn't use the patch pockets from the pattern, and instead used in-seam pockets (the pattern piece is from Simplicity 2444). 

And this definately is a quick make!!  This was cut out and sewed in a morning, and the only tricky bit is the point of the V in the neckline.  There's a video on Gertie's blog here on how to sew it. 

The fabric requirements are 3 metres of 45" wide fabric, or 2.4 metres of 60" wide fabric.  I had 2 metres which was about 54" wide, and that was grand.  But it helped that I had shortened it, and you would need more for a directional print.

I love this dress, and especially how it goes with this amazing Biba belt I got in the sale a few years ago in the House Of Fraser.  And I'm planning to make the Swirl wrap dress soon, and the second version of the Chemise Dress in the Autumn.

Have a great (long) weekend!