A major problem is the fabric. I found it when checking out the fleece fabric for a kid related thing. In the darkish side room of the shop, amongst the red fleece with giant orange stars and white fleece with multicoloured flowers, it looked like a sophisticated olive green rib. I wasn’t overly keen at its mystery synthetic content, but at £3.99/m I decided to go for it. The fabric is somekind of ribbish thing, with little loops on the front (kind of like toweling) when you peer closely and it’s. The backside is fleecey.
When I got it home it just looked drab and cheap and synthetic, but by then I had 2 1/2 m of the stuff so I went ahead and cut the pieces out. I was surprisingly patient with this, I usually hate cutting out and there were a lot of pieces. A to K – 11 different pattern pieces ending up with 14 different bits of cut fabric (maybe that’s not so much, but recently I’ve been making t shirts, which have 5 pieces, so it seemed a lot). I decided to make up my pattern lay out as I went along, cutting it on the flat to help get the ribbing properly vertical but also to squeeze more out, as the fabric lay out for the larger sizes looked to have a lot of waste fabric down one side. I saved a lot of fabric, I think I may have a metre left and I cut the ribbing pieces out of the main fabric too. However, I’m unsure what I would ever want to make with the left over (I did threaten to make hubby a tank top out of it, as it’d be easier than the darn waistcoat, but I think I was joking).
Once cut out it was a breeze to make. I read the instructions, got my head around the construction and didn’t need to look at them again until attaching the bands, it was that simple. There are no buttonholes or zips or gathers or complicated new sewing techniques to decipher. Yay. You make a top, and a skirt and then sew them together. The skirt is really easy, fold over and sew tops of pockets, baste pockets to side pieces, join side pieces to front and back pieces, job done. The top is the same kind of deal, with 4 pieces (front, back and 2 sides) but slightly trickier as there are princess seams at the front and the sleeves are raglan and attached last (and you can’t try the top on until then as it won’t stay up, ask me how I know). The pattern has a nice amount of notches for my taste, enough to double check the pieces are going together right but not silly irritating ones that you don’t really need (i.e. some patters have one in the middle of a shoulder seam which is basically sewing two straight 3 inch wide pieces of fabric together – am I the only person who finds this irritating in a “you made me waste time cutting notches because you think I can’t match up two 3 inch long straight bits of fabric” kind of way?).
The only real construction issue that I had was that in places there were lots of layers of fabric and my fabric was quite thick. The pattern instructions have you press the seams to one side, rather than open, so when I was sewing on my doubled over ribbing band to the bottom of my side piece, with pocket, I had a whopping 7 layers of fabric to sew through (pocket, side panel, seam allowance of pocket, seam allowance of side panel, seam allowance of centre panel, 2 layers of ribbing) and I did break a needle at one point. Oh and I mistakenly matched the seamline on the bottom ribbing to a seam line at the front, rather than the back as I intended, so now I see that seam every time I sit down.
So, one quick dress. In some rather uninspiring fabric. And the fit could be better too. My upper bust fell into size 12 category, my full bust size 14, my waist above size 16 (eek) and my hips size 16. As I have never done a FBA on a princess seam before and was initially confused by what was going on with the side panels of the dress (what with the princess seam at front and then wrapping around to be a third of the back, they look a bit of a strange shape!) I decided to wimp out and go with the size 16. After all, surely it wasn’t really necessary to make the bust of a size 12 bigger only to then try and work out how to grade the whole thing with it’s high low seam out to a bigger size, was it?
It’s wearable but the top of the princess seams (on my upper bust, surprise surprise) is too big. And it’s baggy at the back. But I think the worst bit is the front of the join between the top and the skirt. This seam is high at the front and low at the back and at the front it looks wierd on me. Initially I thought this was just because the it was kind of like an empire line style (although less baggy underneath) which has never looked good on me. Then I realised that the seam line doesn’t fall under my bust, as it does on slimmer people I’ve seen wearing it, but is actually on my lower bust. It’s back to basics here – that fuller bust of mine needs more length of fabric to go around it, and that’s what I’m missing, so the seam is hitting too high. Oh and the upper arms seem a bit tight which is an issue I’ve encountered before (but I’ve now found a tutorial for bigger biceps (aka fat arms) for future makes).
On a positive front, I’m pleased with my little decal on the front. I used the fluffier fleecey reverse of the fabric and just zig zagged it in place, overrunning the ends a little like I’ve seen on shop bought garments and it looks pretty good. I used the wrong side for the “ribbing” too as I wasn’t going to get a contrast fabric to match easily and that looks good (although the bottom band is starting to pill gah and the neckband doesn’t sit flat, which is annoying). The dress is comfy to wear, it’s basically a big sweater, but it’s long enough to not make me worry. I’ve worn it 3 days in a row (not uncommon for me, I tend to wear things until they’re dirty unless the weather changes). And I do like the big pockets, even though they’re ridiculous.
I’m glad I didn’t buy expensive fabric for it. I can’t decide weather to try and make it again to try and resolve some of the issues. I’m not sure I’m enthusiastic enough about the potential to make the effort. But then again, I ended up paying a lot for the pattern and printing combined, so it would be nice to get my money’s worth out of it. I’m pretty sure that I can fix some of the bagginess in the back issues on this one by taking in the seams a little (although I’m not sure I can face unpicking neckbands to look at the upper front bagginess) so I might try that first.
Update: I wrote this post yesterday but didn’t have any photo’s. I managed a rather lack lustre photo shoot today, partly due to the rain, partly due to not feeling inspired by the dress. Before I had chance to add them I saw a lovely friend of mine. She loved the dress and declared it to be both practical and stylish and was surprised that I’d made it (and she is very talended at sewing herself). She then started waxing lyrical about the Gudrun Sjoden drab collection. I’m guessing she was meaning the colourway, but there are some tunics. I’m flattered as the garments there are very cool.
Anyway, she has instructed me to make another one again straight away. If I do I think I’ll need to do a FBA (eek). Hopefully that’ll mean I don’t need to take in the side seams at the back (which I feel really need doing on this one). Also, we both agree the sleeves would be improved by being 2 inches longer. However, I may need to take her fabric shopping with me as I was telling her about the burgandy sweater knit I’d seen locally that I have plans for and she has forbidden me to wear burgandy as she reckons it washes me out. I was given a long list of colours I can wear, but I’ve forgotten all but one of them, pink, I was so horrified by the thought of wearing pink that my mind has blanked the rest.
So, there may be a Lola mark II. Then again, I may get distracted. I’ve remembered I wanted to use my black needle cord to make a Bleuet a bit like this one (although the worry of gaping is now putting me off slightly).