Silver Dora Dress

Hello!

It’s starting to feel very wintery up here in Shetland. The nights are drawing in and it’s getting really cold. I’ve been getting back into knitting and have been trying to use up the left over wool from my last two projects to make hats. I am also really getting into a bit of drawing and painting again. Anyway back to the sewing chat.

You may have seen my blog post at the end of October where I announced the launch of my first sewing pattern for sale on Etsy, the Dora Dress and Top. I was so excited to put it online and finally share what I have been working on. Thank you so much to those of you who left me lovely comments on here and on social media. I was so nervous to put it out into the wild, so I really appreciated the support :).

I have quite a few more Dora dress and top samples to share with you, so lets kick off today with my favourite version, the silver Dora Dress. I used this awesome silver pleated fabric from Stoff and Stil.

I was so excited to try working with this fabric as I had never seen anything like it. I really wanted to create a statement piece that would showcase this pattern.

Working with this fabric was odd, it was quite strange to cut as it has a 3D structure. I personally found the best way to deal with it was to stretch it out flat for the bodice pieces before cutting, which was a bit of a risky move, but seems to have payed off. Then for the skirt I just lightly held the pattern pieces against the fabric (not stretching it out this time) and cut them out with my rotary cutter.

The best thing about this fabric is it doesn’t fray so I didn’t have to finish seams or hem, which was a treat!

I did fully line this version in black cotton voile to make it comfy to wear, I worried the fabric might cling to my body otherwise. The pattern calls for a lined bodice only, but it is really easy to do a fully lined version. I basically just made another dress in the lining fabric and sewed the two together along the neckline, understitching to keep the lining from rolling out and making sure to hem the lining to be slightly shorter than the dress version.

I love my silver Dora Dress. I think in this fabric it will make a great Christmas or New Years Eve party dress.

Have you started making a party dress for the winter festivities yet?

Dora Dress Silver Plisse by Attie and Dora

Dora Dress by Attie and Dora Patterns Side viewDora dress by Attie and Dora Back View

Dora Dress by Attie and Dora Patterns

Dora Dress by Attie and Dora PDF

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Introducing the Dora Dress and Top by Attie and Dora

Hello,

I am thrilled to let you know that I have just uploaded my first digital sewing pattern design for sale on Etsy. The pattern is sold as a digital PDF file which can be downloaded and printed at home. It is available in sizes 8-18.

Attie and Dora is a sewing pattern company based in Shetland, Scotland. All the patterns are designed, cut and graded by me, Eleanor Coutts. Each pattern is designed with the goal in mind of creating the ultimate between seasons capsule wardrobe.

The Dora Dress is a modern take on the traditional slip dress with a 3 part empire line bodice. The pattern includes the additional option to make a hip length top version.

The bodice finishes just under the bust and the skirt is slightly flared skimming the body, to give a flattering silhouette.

Dora is suitable for makers who already have some experience of garment sewing. It is a relatively easy sew, with no tricky closures to deal with, but looks best when made with slinky fabrics with a lot of drape.

I had some help in the development of the Dora Dress and top from my wonderful testers. I couldn’t have done it without you. Megan, Allison, Miriam, Jenny, Georgia, Hannah, Laura, Jennifer, Lizzie and Linda.

I also need to say a big thank you to Leanne, Lens in the Lane, the wonderful photographer who captured the photos below.

If you make a Dora Dress I would absolutely love to see how you got on. Please share your makes using the hashtags #sewingdora #attieanddorapatterns

Also check out my Etsy Shop if you would like to see more photos of the Dora Dress including my silver version 🙂

Dora Dress by Attie and Dora

Dora Dress by Attie and Dora

Dora Dress by Attie and Dora

 

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Fern Shorts

This month I was asked to do some pattern testing for Afternoon Patterns.

Their new pattern, the Fern Shorts, is due to be released today, the 1st September 2017.

I was really excited to be asked to pattern test for them. I have followed and admired Afternoon patterns for a long time. If you haven’t heard of them check out their amazing website. I love the aesthetic of their designs and their printed pattern covers are gorgeous.

When I first heard that the pattern I would be testing was shorts I did have an ‘uh oh’ moment. As you know I live in Shetland, and it isn’t really known for its shorts weather :). However, the lovely Jenny of Afternoon patterns mentioned that they would look great sewn up in lightweight wool fabrics and worn with tights, so I knew I wanted to go in this direction to get the most wear out of them all year round.

I had a piece of cotton and wool blend liberty fabric in my stash that was gifted to me by a really kind friend who knows how obsessed I am with fabric. It was 1.85m length which just happened to be the perfect length for this project so I felt it was fate.

I am so happy with how these turned out. I was nervous about the fit as I have struggled in the past to find shorts that I feel comfortable in, but I think these are really flattering. I did lengthen them by 2cm on the “lengthen or shorten here” line and that seems to have given me the perfect amount of room and they don’t ride up or feel remotely tight. I did size up to make sure they were loose fitting as I feel self conscious in tight shorts.

I would thoroughly recommend this pattern. It was a fun sew and I love my Fern Shorts. I can see myself wearing them a lot as they can be dressed up or down. The fabric is so soft, I could even get away with wearing them without tights on warmer days in the summer.

Fern Shorts Afternoon Patterns made by Attie and Dora

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Fern Shorts Afternoon Patterns made by Attie and Dora

Fern Shorts Afternoon Patterns made by Attie and Dora

 

 

 

 

Chambray Kalle Shirt Dress

Hello!

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently. We were on holiday, then moved house so I have been rather busy.

Anyway. I got my new sewing room set up, and finished this Kalle shirtdress (pattern by Closet Case Patterns).

Kalle Shirt Dress 2

I didn’t make any modifications, which was silly as it is a bit short for me. I also possibly should have sized down. For some strange reason I cut a size larger than I would normally. I think I thought it would look good even more oversized.

However, I still think it’s a great pattern. I will definitely make another in the right size. I am planning to make one in a slightly lighter weight fabric with more drape. Will let you know how it goes.

I am really into the style of this garment. I love how effortless, yet put together, it looks.

The fabric was some chambray from Merchant and Mills. It’s really soft and comfy to wear. Plus I love the colour.

Aaron and I took these photos on a beautiful evening in Burra. These photos were taken at 8pm. I love how bright Shetland is at night in the summer. We even spotted a whale on the way home, which was so exciting. Oh, and a wave splashed into my boot while I was trying to pose near the waters edge, the perils of blogging.

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Attie and Dora

Emptying my sea water filled shoe

Attie and Dora Kalle Shirt Dress

Attie and Dora Kalle Shirt Side

Attie and Dora Handmade Outfit

 

 

 

My First Hand-Knitted Jumper

Handmade Shetland wool Jumper Attie and Dora Shetland

Bit of a change of subject today. Although I think of Attie and Dora as very much a sewing focused blog, I have recently become interested in knitting and want to incorporate lots of warm practical knitwear into my handmade wardrobe.

Knitting my first garment was an interesting process for me. I had very little experience of knitting, but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. I was a bit out of my depth, but jumping head first into this new challenge worked for me. I admit I did need help with deciphering some of the instructions. I find knitting pattern jargon really confusing. Luckily I know a few knitters who were happy to answer my questions. My mum taught me how to graft the armholes, I would have been clueless at that stage without her guidance. I used a youtube tutorial to figure out how to knit on four needles when I got to the neckline, but mostly I just went for it and figured it out as I went along.

The pattern included an icelandic style yoke, but I wanted a block colour for a more versatile garment. There is no name of the designer on the pattern, my mum bought it in a charity shop.

I bought the wool from Jamieson’s of Shetland. It is ‘mirrydancers’ Shetland Marl and I think I used 8 or 9 100g balls.

This project took me quite a while as I was only doing a few rows at a time in the evenings. I find knitting really relaxing and a fun alternative to sewing, particularly if I want to feel that I am doing something creative, but can’t be bothered to go up into my sewing room. I find I will knit while I watch tv and I love that  working in stocking stitch doesn’t require much concentration. It is sort of meditative.

It wasn’t all a breeze, there were moments when I made silly mistakes and was despairing a bit, but once I finished it I felt such a massive sense of achievement and have started my next knitting project already, a grey mohair cardigan using a pattern from Wool and the Gang.

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Driftless Cardigan

Just a quick post today. I wanted to show you the Driftless cardigan I made this week. The pattern is by Grainline Studio and it gets a big thumbs up from me.  I love the design and it came together really quickly on the overlocker.

The pattern calls for a medium weight knit and I wasn’t sure if this really soft and stretchy hacci sweater knit fabric from Girl Charlee UK would suit the pattern, but I think it worked. The fabric drapes beautifully and I feel effortlessly chic in this cardigan.

I actually made no alterations to the pattern for my height and it fits really well. I think if I make this again in a sturdier knit, I will add a bit of length to the bodice and sleeves, as I’m guessing the stretchiness of the fabric is having an effect on the fit.

I’ve already ordered more fabric to make more of these, so keep an eye out for more versions coming soon.

Driftless Cardigan Front

Driftless Cardigan Side

Driftless Cardigan Front

Driftless Cardigan Back

Oilskin Kelly Anorak

 

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora Close Up

It’s finally done! My first handmade jacket.

I have to be honest I really struggled with this project, not at all because of the pattern, but due to my fabric choice. I think my mum’s quote on seeing the jacket half way through sums it up nicely – ‘you don’t make things easy for yourself do you’– no mam, no I don’t!

It was totally worth it though as I LOVE this jacket. I would go as far as saying it’s my favourite piece of outerwear that I have ever owned, and I made it! I have Closet Case Patterns to thank for that. What an excellent pattern. I strongly recommend you buy it if you want to make your own anorak, although I wouldn’t recommend using oilskin for this unless you have a powerful sewing machine.

I love the design of this jacket. The pockets are roomy and look really professional. I opted for the hood rather than the collar, but didn’t include the drawstring as my fabric was very stiff and I didn’t think it would gather well.

I made some adjustments for my height (I am 5’11”). I lengthened the bodice by 5cm and also lengthened the sleeves. I deliberated about where to add the extra length to the sleeves and decided to just double the length of the cuff. They are now the perfect length for me.

The fabric I used is superb quality khaki oilskin from Merchant and Mills. Oilskin isn’t terrible to work with, but when you have multiple layers to sew through you need some power behind you and unfortunately my sewing machine at the time, a Janome 432S, just didn’t have enough. I have since bought myself a new sewing machine, a Bernina 350PE, and it was able to handle the fabric much better. I found the topstitching particularly tricky on my old Janome. I really struggled to sew the pockets and any other bulky seams. My other traumatic memory of this project was trying to set in the sleeves, easing in oilskin is a nightmare. I managed it eventually, but it took a good few hours.

My tips for working with this oilskin would be:

  • to use bulldog clips, not pins as they mark the fabric
  • use a denim needle, it worked well for me
  • take your time, as the needle will leave permanent and very visible holes in the fabric, so there is no room for error
  • when setting in sleeves, baste first and hold in place with bulldog clips or use pins inside the seam allowance
  • grade seams to reduce bulk wherever possible
  • invest in a hump jumper, or make one out of a piece of card
  • press seams with fingers or use an iron on a low heat with a pressing cloth, test on a scrap of fabric first
  • topstitching this material with topstitching thread is really tricky, so it may be easier to use normal thread as I really struggled to do this neatly, especially on my old Janome.
  • be prepared for one long slow project, as you can’t really make mistakes you will have to really take your time over this, so not a speedy project.

 

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora side

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora Hood

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora back

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora front

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora Zip

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora front 2

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora silly

Pattern – Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Patterns

Fabric – Khaki Oilskin from Merchant and Mills

Hardware – Hardware kit from Closet Case Patterns