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

 

 

 

Handmade Wedding Dress and Silk Robe

2016 has been a really interesting year for me sewing-wise, but so far my biggest sewing achievement has gone unblogged.  The photos came through just in time to write this post before the end of the year, and I can’t wait to tell you all about my experience making a wedding dress and silk robe for my friends’ wedding.

Lace Knit Wedding Dress and Silk Robe

Photo credit Alexander Martin

The bride’s vision was a knitted lace, backless dress. The dress was made in collaboration with the mother of the groom, Helen, who made the extraordinary knitted part of the dress.  My job was to make the silk underdress, which would be combined with the lace knit overlay. I was also tasked with the job of designing and making a floor length silk robe with a slight train.

The underdress was necessary, not only to protect the bride’s modesty, but also to provide some structure to support the knitted layer and hold the shape of the garment when the two were sewn together. This was of particular concern as the wool had a tendency to stretch out.

The main challenge we faced making this dress was that the bride lives in Glasgow so I posted each toile to the bride and carried out fittings via FaceTime and Facebook messenger. I did visit her once in person to adjust the dress, which was helpful, but probably the saving grace in the end was that we made a duct tape dress-form of the bride’s torso so that we could use it to check the fit as we went along.

The dress

My process for making the silk part of the dress began by making the bride’s bodice and skirt blocks. I then started drafting the dress and sent her the first toile to try on.

The first toile was very low cut, all the way down to the small of her back. It occurred to us early on that this design feature could prove quite impractical, as it would be awkward to wear and dance in without it falling off. I did a lot of research about constructing backless dresses, mainly online and with reference to other patterns and shop bought garments. We concluded that if we made it so low cut we would either need to have something holding it together at the back along the top of the shoulders,  or we would need to stick the dress to her on the day to keep it in place.

In the end we decided this just wasn’t going to be practical and it made sense to raise the dress at the back closer to her natural waist, so I redrafted the pattern.

In total I made 10 toiles before the final garment. Some were due to fitting alterations, but also the style of the dress evolved quite a lot throughout the process as the bride tried them on and clarified her vision. The final version ended up being a bit of a pattern hack as very close to the deadline we changed the bodice style from princess seamed, empire line to the lingerie slip like style. I used the cup piece from a vintage lingerie pattern (New Look 6029) to save myself time and merged it with my dress to give the final garment you see in the pictures.

The under-dress was made with silk dupion, which was a beautiful weight and provided some structure for the knitted overlay. The two were made independently and then sewn together at the zip.  The dress was sewn partly on the machine, but finished by hand. I used satin bias tape to finish the hem and the neckline. The straps were rouleau made with the silk dupion. I sewed the zip in by hand.

I took some photos of the underdress before we attached the knitted layer.I apologise for the terrible lighting. I was very busy that month so they were taken at 6am before I went to work. The sun was only just rising, so I didn’t have much daylight to work with. I was actually lying on the floor to get the full length of the dress in the shot. Although they aren’t the most beautiful photos I  wanted to include them to give you an idea of what the underdress looked like before we combined the two.

Also my over-critical brain wants me to mention that the dress could have done with a good steam before these photos, but oh well 🙂

Silk Wedding Dress
Silk Wedding Dress
Handmade Silk Wedding Dress
Handmade Silk Wedding Dress

Handmade Silk Wedding Dress

This week the happy couple, Jim and Sam, sent me copies of their wedding photos so here is the dress and robe on the day. It was an amazing feeling to see Sam walking down the aisle in mine and Helen’s creation. We were very proud. It was a first for both of us.

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

The Robe 

The robe was made with the same fabric as the underdress. I made an outerwear and sleeve block from the bride’s measurements. I then drafted the pattern, which was floor length with a slight train. The robe had no closure at the front, which meant it was very simple and elegant in style. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the full length of the robe. The bride wore it as she walked into the hall for the meal and it billowed out behind her beautifully.

Lace Knit Wedding Dress and Silk Robe

Photo credit Alexander Martin

P.s.If I manage to get hold of a photo of the full silk robe I will share it on Instagram and update this post.

 

 

 

 

 

Ogden Cami Dress

If you write a sewing blog you will know how frustrating it is when you make a plan to finally take photos of that fabulous new dress you have made, only to discover that it is pouring with rain.

Well today Aaron, who takes most of my blog photos, and I decided we would brave the rain and take the photos anyway.

It was a pretty hilarious experience and very luckily after being soaked by rain, chased by waves and watched by curious seals, we actually came home with some good photos of my latest make.

I bought the Ogden Cami pattern, by True Bias, as soon as the news of it’s release dropped into my inbox. I absolutely love the design, and instantly had visions of a dress version.

If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen my first attempt at this pattern. I made one for my mum for her birthday with some silk from India. It fit her beautifully and I was inspired to try making another for myself.

The fabric I used was from Merchant and Mills and is a lovely hand block print summer weight cotton from Jaipur. I bought it intending to make a shirt dress, but it occurred to me that it would look pretty awesome as an Ogden cami, I am glad I went with my instincts.

For both myself and my mum’s version I added 5cm to the length of the top (we are both tall). Then, for my dress version, I just extended the existing design lines until the length of the blouse was sufficient to achieve a midi length dress. I roughly estimated the length I’d need by holding a tape measure against my body.

The construction of this pattern is so simple, but so effective. I love the rouleau straps and the facing/modesty shelf. It’s such a satisfying, but quick sew, and there are so many amazing versions appearing on Instagram for inspiration.

I am so happy with this make, it is such a great pattern, I will definitely be making more of these.

 

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World Map Dress

I went to my friend’s hen party a couple of weekends ago and the theme was colours or countries. I was at a loss as to what to wear, I’m usually a bit rubbish at dressing up, but then I realised I can sew and decided to make myself something fun.

The first thing that came to mind was a flag dress (Geri Halliwell at the brits style) but it’s been so overdone. I then had the idea of a world map dress so I could be ALL the countries. I googled world map fabric and found this on eBay  Most of the world map fabrics I found were more suited to upholstery projects and the one I chose was still rather thick, but I thought it would be fine as long as I chose a pattern which would work with a stiffer fabric with very little drape.

I used my block to draft this pattern a few months ago, made myself a dress which I am still yet to blog, and left it lying under my cutting table. I now have no idea why i abandoned this pattern as I love it. The design is quite simple, a fitted bodice with a half-circle skirt, but it is so flattering and I am now a complete convert to circle skirts, I love the way they fall so nicely and are simple to draft. I added side seam pockets to the skirt forgetting that the zip was to be in the side seam, so that was a bit silly, but I managed to make it work. Next time I would definitely add a seam allowance to the centre back and place the zip there instead. The bodice is lined with the same fabric and all the seams were finished with my overlocker.

I have been really busy lately, with various projects, so this was a bit of a rush job. I didn’t spend time worrying about pattern placement as I really didn’t expect to ever wear it again, other than for fancy dress, but it turns out I actually really like it and might get more wear out of it than I first thought.

I think I will make a few more of these for myself for summer, the length is perfect for casual or formal wear and I might even make one in my silk from India, which I think I have mentioned a few times. I have been hoarding it for so long and still haven’t been brave enough to use it. What do you think? Should this dress be relegated to the fancy dress wardrobe or is it nice enough to wear day to day?

world map dress front view

world map dress front view

world map dress front view 2

world map dress side view

World Map Dress back view

 

Sewing Life Update and a Scrap Busting Summer Dress

This week I have been working on a pattern design for a top which I have scanned into illustrator to use as my first trial pattern for the pattern workshop online course I am currently doing. If you aren’t aware of it already Pattern Workshop is a website that runs Courses for PDF Pattern Designers and creative entrepreneurs. I am enrolled on the ‘Creating PDF patterns: from sketch to sale’ course. So far I am loving the course and I am learning so much so quickly. I am completely new to Adobe Illustrator and at first it seemed daunting, but Lauren Dahl’s (the course creator) tutorials are so easy to follow and well explained. I would thoroughly recommend it. I am still just getting started with the tutorials and this week I scanned my first pattern in and began tracing it in illustrator. I will keep you posted on how I get on with the course.

I also started making my version of the Closet Case Files Morgan Jeans this week. When I saw the pattern I almost screamed with excitement. I think Heather Lou read my mind with this one, I have wanted a pair of boyfriend jeans for a while now, but am never quite satisfied with ready to wear offerings, so now I can make my own!  I bought denim from Merchant and Mills and I am so happy with it, it’s excellent quality and quite heavy weight so I may have some fun experimenting with distressing the denim after I’ve assembled them. Rather than make too many adjustments at the paper stage I have just gone up a size (I want them to have a loose fit) and have added 5cm to the length, so hopefully I can tack my seams together first and make any required alterations as I go. I will let you know how I get on with these.

Sewing Jeans

I have a lot of projects on the go at the moment, including making a wedding dress, in collaboration with a friend. I am planning to do some detailed posts on that after the wedding. It’s been such an interesting project and a great exercise in developing my pattern cutting and fitting skills.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen me post a picture of another self-drafted dress a few weeks ago.

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We finally managed to get some pictures of me wearing it at the weekend, when I wasn’t out enjoying all this glorious sunshine we have been having.

I had originally planned to wear this dress to my friend’s wedding in June, but when I wore it for the first time on Saturday I felt it would work well as a casual summer dress. I really like the midi length as it covers my extremely pale legs, but doesn’t feel as over dressed as maxi length can.

This dress was drafted using my block. I was playing around with different bodice shapes and to be honest I think it needs more work,  but I will still get a lot of wear out of this and I used up some fabric scraps making it – so that was really satisfying. The skirt fabric is the leftovers from this dress. I just managed to squeeze this skirt out of the remaining fabric.

Black and white Dress attie and dora design 2

Finally, how great is this weather we have been having? I have been out on some lovely walks in the last couple of weeks. It’s been slowing up my sewing a bit, but it has been wonderful to spend some time outdoors.

Pebbles

Nesbister Böd Door

Culswick Cliffs

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

 

 

 

Double Denim Smock

I think I mentioned a while back that I have been having a go at designing some of my own patterns. I attended a pattern cutting class at the London College of Fashion last year and on returning home drafted my own block with the help of a very useful pattern cutting book (Your Pattern Cutting by E.Sheila MacEwan).

Since then I have designed a few trial patterns, some of which are still in progress. I made this dress a few months ago and it was one of the first patterns I drafted.

Denim Smock Dress Pockets

Denim Smock Dress Back

The dress is very simple, so was an easy first design project. I got my inspiration from a RTW smock I owned for years, which recently wore out at the armpits and was unfortunately too far gone to repair.

I love oversized relaxed garments that are comfortable to wear lounging around the house, but still look reasonably smart for wearing out in public, so that was what I was aiming for.

The first version of this didn’t have the contrasting neckline piece. It was far lower cut and the neckline was finished with bias binding, but it wasn’t working as the neckline was a tad too low. I left it in a drawer for a couple of months and then the other day ripped back the neckline and finished it with this contrasting denim neckline insert, raising the neckline back up to a more modest level and adding an interesting design feature. I am really pleased with it now and think it’s far more wearable like this.

I think I will get a lot of wear out of this. It feels so exciting to make your own designs, I really love the process and it’s great to have creative control over what you wear.

Aaron and I took the photos this morning down at the Lodberries in Lerwick. It was a beautiful but breezy day so not the easiest weather to try and photograph a floaty dress, but we got a few good snaps.

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Happy Sunday!

Bye Bye Birdie Vintage Pledge Dress 2016

This year I signed up to the Vintage Pledge challenge for the second time. Last year I pledged to try my first vintage pattern and this is what I made. I really enjoyed the challenge and loved the resulting dress, so thought I would give it another go this year.

My pledge for 2016 was to try and sew at least 3 of the vintage patterns in my stash.

The first I have chosen to make is this pattern:

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which if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen me mention a few times.

This was kind of an odd choice for me as I am not a fan of 80’s fashion and if I’m honest I didn’t immediately like the style, but something about it grew on me and looking past the shoulder pads I could see potential.

I thought that the shape of view B was quite minimalistic and modern looking and chose a fabric with a modern feel to reflect this. I bought the black Bye Bye Birdie Atelier Brunette fabric from Sew Over It’s online store. I have used Atelier Brunette fabric before here and the quality is sublime, I am a big fan.

I found the construction of this dress really odd, particularly the collar construction. I am used to assembling the collar separately, topstitching and then sewing it between the facing and the dress, but in these instructions you sort of attached it piece by piece, first sewing the undercollar to the neck edge of the bodice, then the top collar to the facing and finally sewing the top collar and facing piece to the undercollar and bodice piece. The topstitiching was done after, and personally I found this method confusing, however I got there and to be honest I don’t think the method was bad, I think it was just the fact that it was new to me that threw me a bit.

The other thing I have to remark upon is the really odd zip placement. The top is very loose fitting and kind of boxy, and the zip is placed 1/4 of the way down the bodice through the waist and into the skirt. I found my zip stuck out oddly at the middle of my back where there was excess fabric. I ended up having to remove the long zip and just insert a 9 inch zip into the C.B. of the skirt starting at the waistline and this seems to suffice as the top is so loose fitting I can pull it over my head fairly easily. I am not sure if this was an oversight in the drafting or whether I added too much fabric when I made my lengthening modifications for my height (adding 5cm to the length of top and skirt). It may have been worth removing the excess fabric from the back, but I liked the look of it, so I kept it in and changed the zip position, as mentioned, to overcome this.

Another thing to mention is I left off the belt as I didn’t feel it was required and I added a snap fastener to the inside of the lapel to hold everything in place.

Here is my version of the dress

Vintage Pledge Dress 2016 Bye Bye Birdie Fabric

Vintage Pledge 2016

Vintage Pledge Dress atelier brunetteI am actually quite shocked by how much I love this. I really didn’t expect to like it as much as I do. I think this is one of my favourite makes to date and I love the style! I might be a fan of 80’s fashion after all.

I originally tried to take photos at the very scenic Noss Sound, but it was freezing, windy and started to snow, so we abandoned the mission and took some photos before Sunday dinner at my parents house instead. I left a couple of the Noss sound shots in as even though they weren’t the best images to show the detail of the dress, they sort of act as action shots….