The Conneticut Beach Party Dress

Its been a while since I posted about any sewing, so I thought I should tell you a story about the dress I made recently. Is everyone sitting comfortably?  Good, then I’ll begin…

Image result for nani iro double gauze forest

Once upon a time, a few years ago, everyone in the sewing world seemed to be blogging about making double gauze dresses, like this one and Prolific Project Starter got swept along in the tide and bought some of that same Nana Iro Double Gauze and when it arrived all the way from Japan it was beautiful and she loved it and petted it and put it safely in the cupboard. Every now and again she would take it out and pet it again and consider what the Perfect Pattern was to make with it, but one pattern would have too many seam lines that would cut into the large pebbles and the next would be too tent like, so she would put the fabric back in the cupboard whilst she thought some more and she never actually got around to actually doing anything with it.

 

Then one day she saw that Kelly Hogaboom was running a sew a long for the Bootstrap fit and flare dress in double gauze including this lovely version in a similar sort of colour for someone with a similar sort of body shape and she thought “maybe this is the dress for me” and so she bought some test fabric (normal cotton fabric, not double gauze) and in a fit of enthusiasm she bought lots of turquoise bias binding for seam finishes and she bought the pattern and she started printing it out and some of it came out the wrong scale and the printer played up and she got distracted and the next thing you new it had been sitting in a pile in the sewing room for nearly two years a little while.

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Then in April there was a UFO sew a long on the Sew Along group and as part of that she was sorting through her fabric and UFO’s and found the “dress” (aka a pile of fabric) and the seeds of inspiration started to grow.

 

And in May she finally started it, starting out with reprinting the pattern, cutting the fabric, discovering some irritating white lines after she cut the fabric (which she had enough fabric to avoid if she’d seen them earlier) , sewing it up (which came together pretty easily as it’s actually fairly simple and the sew a long is great), binding the seams as she went, inserting her 3rd(?) ever invisible zipper (which went pretty well) and working out how to Hong Kong finish that too, frustrating herself by not quite lining things up and by the fabric puckering when she pressed it and then making herself get over it because it was a freaking test garment for pity’s sake.

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Soon she was excitingly trying it on and dreaming about how good the double gauze version was going to be (even if she wasn’t sure quite what she was going to do with two such similar dresses in her wardrobe).

 

 

Then she sewed up the side seams and tried it on again only to find out that it DID NOT FIT. See, that horizontal panel is suppose to fit close to your body around your midrift and the gathers on the bodice are suppose to fit under your boobs, rather than framing your nipples and then the panel hanging down below empire line stylee.

Suffice to say that much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth followed. This was not an easy fix, the entire front bodice needed to be longer, which meant it needed recutting, and even if she could work out what adjustments to make that would mean upicking all those beautifully finished seams and starting again. She really wasn’t sure that she could face it.

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But then again she really didn’t want to throw away all her hard work either. So after a bit of sulking and pouting she asked her friend, of a fairly similar but slightly smaller build, if she wanted a dress and lo and behold she did, and with a bit of adjusting (a pair of darts got added to the bodice/waist panel seam to take it in some more, and the side seams got taken in) it was finished and it fit.

And her friend declared it to be the perfect dress to pack when visiting her in laws in Connecticut and hanging out on posh beaches with them. Hurrah!

And so the dress wasn’t wasted. But then she thought on in and realised that it wasn’t wasted anyway because not only had she learnt new skills (Hong Kong seam finish), and practiced other skills (invisible zips) also the toile had done its job description of stopping her ruining her precious fabric, so rather than a failure it was a resounding success. Furthermore, seeing the dress  on her friend, she realised it was more her sort of thing than her own, whereupon she realised that the reason she couldn’t find the perfect dress pattern is that she didn’t actually wear dresses, so what she actually needed to do was make something else with her precious fabric that she might actually wear.

But that, dear reader, is a tale for another day (or quite possibly, at the speed she works, year, it’s currently draped over the banister waiting to be put away).

Also she did manage to make the leftovers into some City Gym Shorts part 4 for The Girl.

So, win win win win then.

All that remains is the mystery of how a dress that was drafted to fit her measurements (as all Bootstrap patterns are) came out so wrong.

 

 

Is it Sunday yet?

Yesterday was Finish Something Saturday over at the Stashbusting sewalong. I had plans. I had great plans. I did finish something, but something I started on Friday night and none of the planned sad projects that have been languishing a while.

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  I’m dancing around manically because        IT WAS COLD and LSH was taking too long with the camera!

Today, however, I finally finished my purple jeans.  And the happy dance is partly due to the jeans, and partly due to the camper van in the background, which we just bought.

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The reason that these jeans were languishing is because when they were nearly done, I discovered that there was a frankly obscene fold of fabric at the front. Which is odd because this is the same pattern I used for my foxy jeans, which have no such problem. Anyway, eventually, after sulking at them for a while, I unstitched the crotch seams and got my husband to pin them to try and get a better fit. Then I tacked and expectantly tried them on again. It was worse. Argghh. I ripped out the tacking and redid it a random way. Bit better. Then I got invited round to my friends to do some sewing with her. Aha. Along came the jeans. She thought I was going to help her, little did she know, instead she ended up repinning my crotch for me. Lucky me because the third time, if not exactly the charm, was at least wearable.

Hmm, this me removing a wedge that I’m pretty sure is almost exactly the same as the one I ended up putting in for the foxy pair to help with the fitting issues on my first pair. This fitting malarky makes no sense I tell you. We did end up taking more off the front than the back to help pull the creases out, that’s why my seam allowances don’t match up.

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Anyway, all done now, phew and I’ve been wearing them today.

Out on a walk, admiring the details (like lining the pockets with the remains of LSH’s old pj’s).

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Actually I’ve told a bit of a lie. Whilst they’ve been languishing I, err, misplaced the proper jeans button that I bought. So, as it’s Sunday I just wore them out with a belt, especially as my machine was eating buttonholes yesterday. But I will find the button or buy a new one and attach it and make a buttonhole soon. Promise. In the meantime, here’s more van!

Have you finished anything this weekend?

Jasper

Finally, a jumper, for me, nearly made in the last weekend of Jan (hey I was ill) thereby meeting a key sewing goal.

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I know, I know, it’s a bit wierd to start with a back shot and it’s not because there’s an exciting reveal at the front, just I could only get LSH to take 4 photo’s in total and it took some effort getting that many out of him. The back shot is the only one where I don’t look like a complete [insert mild insult of your choice here].

This Paprika Patterns Jasper sweater took sooo long to make. Not actually make you know, that was surprisingly quick, especially one the welt pockets were out of the way. No, it took so long to get  around to making it, as I’d built it up into some impossibly complicated thing in my head, partly due to the fact that there’s a flow chart to help you choose your size. (And also because the test garments on the Paprika website are so swoonworthy I was worried I wouldn’t do the pattern justice.) In the end, I was in such a strop with the Collar Of Despair on the Jumper That Shall Not be Named that I bit the bullet and, with a lot of repeatly muttering “this is a Muslin, a test garment, it doesn’t matter” to myself, I manged to get on with it.

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[Seriously , this is the best shot by far. I may have to find a new photographer.]

As a fit test muslin goes, my thoughts are more space could be used at the bust, which might stop the front hem rising up a little too, the pocket is adding extra layers where there is too much of me to start with (and I forget it’s there when I’m wearing it so don’t use it), I’d like it longer (this is the sweater length, not the dress, but I like my jumpers on the long side), the arms are ok now but were tight (I redid them with a smaller seam allowance), oh and the arms seem shorter now I’ve added the cuffs, which is weird (yes, I did lazilly wear it before adding cuffs).

I decided while I was making it that I hated this fleece that I can’t remember buying (but I know it was always earmarked to test this pattern) and couldn’t understand why I chose this colour. I like it better now it’s finished, the colour is not one I normally wear but looks ok on, but the fabric quality isn’t great – I’m not sure how well it’ll wash and wear. I’m also worried that it’s not a good test for my final fabric, being both thicker and less stretchy.

The mental block on this project was definitely getting the size right and working out what adjustments to make. I’ll give you the details of my agonising, in case it helps anyone else.  In the end I took a deep breath, did some careful measuring and reread the instructions on choosing sizes and whether you need and FBA or not:

First up my measurements:

  • Full bust 106cm – size 7
  • Waist 96cm – between sizes 8 and a 9
  • Hips 120cm – between sizes 8 and a 9

So according to the flowchart I needed to print pattern file 6 -10 (based on my hip measurements). Which is good, as that was what I had printed out. Phew. (From a copy shop, this pattern has both metric and imperial copy shop options so I could get it printed easily, hooray! So no taping, double hooray)

Next up, the Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) decision. My Upper Bust measures 100cm which is 6cm difference from full bust and therefore falls in the 4.5-8cm difference C cup range that the size  6 – 10 is drafted for, so officially I was good to go without any adjustments. I find this weird as I wear an F/G cup bra, but I decided to trust the pattern and reminded myself this was a muslin, so it’s ok to go wrong. In the end I traced pattern size 7 for my shoulders and bust grading to 9 at waist and hips and marking my notches as best I could and trying to make sure that the blend started/finished in the same place on the front/side and back pieces. I think the shoulders fit ok, but a FBA would actually have been a good idea. Then again, the arms were tight so maybe I should do a size 8 top half grading to a 9 for the waist and hips? Or do I need a size 8 with and FBA grading to a 9? And there’s quite a lot of fabric around my centre back so do I need a different size at the back to the front, which is surely madness, or a sway back adjustment? Arrgh, fitting is hard!

As the markings for the welt pockets are different for each size, I lined my welts up with my lower dot on my pattern front (where my pattern was definitely size 9) and then just made sure they were parallel with the edge of the pattern piece (as I hadn’t been sure where to put the top dot as at that point my line was in the middle of blending from the size 9 to the 7).  I cut the pocket pieces a straight size 9, centred them on the front piece and trimmed the excess off to make them match.

After the welt pockets it was pretty easy actually. Just kind of sew it together. And there’s a great tutorial for the welt pockets. The only I did get a bit confused was whether I was supposed to sew the bottom band through the pocket as well as the front or not, in the end I decided not. The only thing I would change  construction wise is when trimming the seam allowance at the neckline, I would grade it so the longest piece is on top and then when I topstitch it would hold everything down together.

So, in conclusion, I need to be less scared of getting started and less precious about my muslins. This jumper is fine, I would find it perfectly acceptable size wise if I bought it in a shop. The pattern is great, seems well drafted and had lovely clear instructions. I definitely do want to make it again in my earmarked precious fabric, with a hood next time and in the dress length (if I have enough fabric). I will almost certainly leave the welt pockets off, seeing as I find them unflattering and not useful, however this is my personal preference, because on the test garments they look great. I’m still dithering about what size to use especially as the next fabric will be both thinner and stretchier.

 

 

Vivian jeans

There she was just a walking down the street...

There she was just a walking down the street…

In a bright red version of

In a bright red version of Ottobre 5:2012 curvy fit jeans

She got the raspberry stretch denim from Minerva craft after a tip off on

She got the raspberry stretch denim (with a lovely soft fuzzy feel) from Minerva craft after a tip off on Karen’s blog

secret rainbows

and the pockets are lined with secret rainbows

action shot

despite making them the same size as before they are a little tight, even after letting out some seam allowance, but they’re still wearable and comfy

The zipper insertion instructions caused some headscratching until she realised that

The zipper insertion instructions caused some headscratching until she realised that
last time she’d written a tutorial

hmm

and her first ever proper jeans button went well, but the button hole needs to be further over as the fly gapes a little – a hook and eye bodge is planned

Perfectly turned corner pocket

The coin pocket has perfectly turned corners though

X marks the spot

she had fun with the centre back belt loops though

fox detail

but best of all is the back pocket topstitching

work in progress

taken from Ottobre 4 2014 and sewn on through greaseproof high quality tracing paper

Pledges, socks and jeans.

Right, first off, before it’s too late,

I, ProlificProjectStarter, pledge to wear at least one Me Made item every day in May.

Last year was my first MMM, I think I pledged to wear something me made 3 or 4 times a week and I actually managed to wear something every day. I now have more self sewn stuff in my wardrobe and wear a lot of it often, so lets see where the pledge leads me to this year.

Second, I’m going away this weekend, so I decided to find out a sock pattern so that I have something to do while I’m traveling. This is my first attempt at socks, I bought some pretty bamboo needles especially as I didn’t have any small enough. Fingers crossed I don’t get Second Sock Syndrome.

Lastly, I finally have some photo’s of my Ottobre jeans!

As easy as falling of a log brick

As easy as falling of a log brick

So, the fit is definitely not perfect. But it is wearable as proven by the amount I’ve been wearing them.

I was actually directed to "stand on that brick" by my photographer. Serves me right for nobbling him on his way to work I suppose.

I was actually directed to “stand on that brick” by my photographer. Serves me right for nobbling him on his way to work I suppose.

My mum declared them to be very well fitting and I didn’t even ask her. (This is an amazingly positive comment from a woman who is not known for mincing her words).

and the back

and the back

And I may have shown off and told people I’d made them a couple of times. To general amazement.

and the side

and the side

(Is there an ok way to show off your home made clothes to people who don’t sew?)

Ugh, fold of fabric at the front

Ugh, ugly fold of fabric at the front

So, to make sure I don’t focus too much on my failure for perfection, here are my shop bought jeans. My only pair (and these were only bought after many demoralising tries to find something halfway decent).

more wrinkles

and a few wrinkles at the back

I think my homemade ones fit better.

basted first fit

basted first fit, no zip at this point

My muslin started with an inch seam allowance. Which meant after my first basted fit I could extend the crotch length a little, which has improved the fit, but I think I will add more crotch length next time. (Initially I just added length to the front pieces, as I did on my Junipers, but I went back and added it to the backs as well which improved some of the smiles at the back too).

baggy waistband

baggy waistband

The other fitting adjustment I made was to pinch out some of the baginess at the centre back. I just altered the back centre seam so it curved in. I’m not sure that was the “right” thing to do but it has helped.

So, now I’m off to make sure I have some Me Made Clothes packed for my weekend away so I can get my pledge off to a good start. And who knows, maybe I’ll manage to get a second, slightly better fitting pair of jeans before the end of the month. (I can dream, right).

Zip it up

Ottobre design 5/2012, how your minimalist zip insertion instructions intimidated me. How I longed for a diagram. And yet. After stepping away for a bit, when I came back to the zip it seemed to go in really easily. Minimal and yet complete. Still, a diagram wouldn’t have gone amiss.

As I plan to make these again, I thought I’d take notes to help me next time. So they’re here as well, in case they ever help anyone else or in case anyone else feels like enlightening me on what I could’ve done better. I don’t claim to be an expert, I wasn’t convinced I knew what doing at times. But it seemed to work in the end.

Finish raw edges of crotch seam allowance. Stitch crotch seam from back waist to bottom of zipper placket.

So far so good. Seams finished with use of overlocking foot. Zipper placket, that’s where the bit where one of the fronts has a stickey out bit that the other doesn’t, right? Crotch seam duly sewn.

Finish raw curved edge of fly facing. Pin and stitch fly facing to right placket edge.

a

This was straight forward, once I’d worked out I had cut a mirror image of my fly facing and recut it the right way around.

Understitch seam allowance to facing close to seamline. Fold fly facing and pants front wrong sides together and edgestitch along center-front edge.

b

understitching

Simple enough. What’s next?

Fold fly shield piece in half, right sides together, and stitch it’s bottom edge.

Which edge is the bottom? Err, it must be the slanty one, right, cos there’d be no point having that slant inside the seam allowance at the waistband surely. And that would make it the right way up on your picture of all the pattern pieces. OK, I’m 90% sure it’s the slanty one, lets go for it.

Turn fly shield right side out and serge of siz sag its open edges together

c

fly shield assembled.

Pin and stitch left zipper tape to left edge of fly shield

Left zipper tape, this kind of thing always confuses me, that’s the bit that will be on the left when I’m wearing them is it? So the bit on the right as I look at it. Ok, so I need to pin it to the left edge of the fly shield. Hang on, which is the left edge? You haven’t told me this have you. And as it was folded in half during it’s construction it’s not clear from the picture of the pattern pieces either. Grr….

At this point our author sulked, went off, read a different fly insertion tutorial (done completely differently so it just confused her more), mulled it over and then came back

The folded edge must be the one I see once its constructed surely, so I’ll pin the zip to the finished edge, that has to be right.

d

zipper sewn to fly shield

Pin and stitch fly shield to left placket edge, right sides together and with zipper in between.

e

fly shield duely stitched to left placket edge

Turn fly shield right way up and edgestitch seam close to zipper

f

This is looking promising.

Close zipper and pin fly in position from right side, matching centre front marks.

Centrefront marks? Surely I marked those? They must’ve got rubbed off. Oh well, that looks about right….

Turn fly wrong side up and pin free zipper edge to fly facing only (not to pants front). Remove pins from right side, open zipper and stitch it to fly facing carefully.

g

In the process of attaching zipper to fly facing only

Close zipper, pin facing to pants front and topstitch fly, using pattern piece for fly facing as template (flip fly shield out of the way as you stitch).

h

Using fly facing pattern piece (which has no seam allowance added) as my template to mark stitching line. The pins are holding the fly shield out of the way so it doesn’t get stitched accidentally.

Topstitch crotch seam with two parallel rows of stiching

I swear this was not in the instructions when I was sewing. I missed this step out. I noticed later the stitching lines on the garment diagram and “knew” this step had been missed out of the instructions.

Stitch bar tacks on fly as shown in design sketch

Bar tacks, zig zag stitch length 0, that’ll do right?

i

My slightly wobbly topstitching and bar tacks

Fairly painless in the end, once I’d got over my sulk at being expected to know which was the left side of the fly shield. I knew I’d inserted flys ok before on The Boy’s trousers and my moss skirts which only made it worse. I did contemplate following the grainline moss zipper tutorial but I have got seriously confused in the past switching instructions – the pieces are never quite the same shape or referred to in the same way. Plus it somehow feels wrong to not follow the “right” instructions for what I’m doing, but maybe that’s just me? Although with things I’m more confident on, I just surge right ahead and do things the way that makes sense to me, so maybe I just need more practise?

Do you have a set methods for doing things that you do regardless of the instructions or are you a stickler for following the pattern to the t?

First foray into jean sewing

So, as I mentioned yesterday I’ve been trying to make some jeans. Because I am a practical kind of gal and jeans are what I want to wear a lot of the time. And yet I really struggle to find ones that fit (camel toe and general not enough space in crotch, too low waisted, big gapes in my middle back). So, despite being really put off by the thought of many muslins, with the help of my new online sewing friends I’m giving it a go.

Here are some thoughts on my experiences of the jeans style pattern from Ottobre. This is not a sew-a-long because, trust me, I do not know what I’m doing!

  • Choosing a pattern – I considered the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans because it is everywhere in my blogfeed at the moment, but went with the Ottobre ones in the end because I had the magazine already and hadn’t made a single thing from it. Plus I’m not really into skinny fit jeans and tracing a pattern is marginally better than fighting a pdf in my book. Oh yeah, and the Ottobre ones have a wider range of sizes, there’s a different set of pattern pieces for the larger “curvy fit” jeans, with the same set of instructions as the smaller “Lady fit” ones.
  • How to fit? cos, err, you know muslins (or toiles as my mum would say) and stretch fabric, of which I had none. I was eyeing up this purple stretch denim (more tasteful than it sounds, a dark shade) in a local shop, but had told myself I had to finish the pink wool Junipers before I bought it. But then when I went back it was gone, horror. So I found some black denim instead that is brown on the back (brown warp threads?) – making it a nice subtle shade. Then it turned out they did still have the purple, he’d put the last 2m on one side after a customer had complained it had a mark running down the fold line. So I bought both. And decided, the black are going to be a wearable muslin, the purple the real deal, hopefully. Both are quite lightweight but doable as trosuer fabric.
  • The dreaded seam allowance cos, you know, Ottobre patterns don’t come with seam allowance. So as well as tracing from this
    tracin

    cue concentrating face

    (onto my greaseproof paper, cos all I can get locally are tiny packs of tracing paper that last half a garment), you have to add seam allowance. They suggest 1cm. I had decided to go with 1″ so I had room for some fitting. Now, I saw a top tip recently to tape two pens together then you can trace the seamline and seamallowance at the same time. I tried it with my two fabric pens and got a perfect 1cm seam allowance. So I rigged up something to increase that.

    my model of the space shuttle

    my model of the space shuttle

  • think thrice before doing clever things like using different seam allowances for different pieces. Yes, the back pockets don’t need 1″ seam allowance just in case you want to adjust how the fronts and backs are joined, so you can get away with 1cm there. But honestly how did you forget that the yokes join to the backs so really should have the same seam allowance. And the hip pockets. Sigh.
  • Pay attention Pocket bags are designed to be cut from a different fabric. Like it says. Read the instructions. Sigh. (more on how I’d do the pockets in hindsight another time)
  • Consider adding in notches Now, I struggle to see notches on the Ottobre patterns as they’re marked as a line at right angles to the seam line on the inside of the pattern piece. I didn’t find any on this pattern. Nothing. However I wouldn’t put money on them not being there. In general this wasn’t a problem, everything lined up. But the yokes. I’m really struggling to get them the right way up. Next time I will add a notch to the top of the backs and the bottom of the yokes and save myself head scratching and multiple unpickings.
  • Pattern lay out There isn’t one given. Which threw me. I’m not sure why, as I normally ignore the pattern lay out and do my own thing. But hey. I only had 2m of this denim, the pattern called for 2.2m. Plus I’d increased the seam allowance. I made it, just. But if my fabric had nap, I wouldn’t have made it as the fronts and backs lay in opposite directions. And the waistband (which I haven’t cut yet) will need to be four pieces, not 2. Either that or cut with the grain, rather than across it as directed. And I decreased my seam allowance at the bottom of the legs to fit things on, cos I’m fairly confident there won’t be fitting issues there.
    creative seam allowance

    creative seam allowance

    Right then, that’s everything traced and cut. Next up, the first bits of sewing.

  • Trouser-A-Long

    None of my peers sew, which means it could be a quite lonely hobby, but of course it isn’t. Apart from the friendly staff at my local fabric shop who are always happy to discuss fabric and projects, there is the marvelous online sewing community. Sure, sometimes it can feel a bit cliquey, but I’d still be sewing rectangles if it wasn’t for all the inspiration, tutorials, tips and encouragement out there.

    Recently I joined the Sew-A-Longs & Sewing Contests facebook group, which is “a place to find the latest (as well as the past) sew a longs! Discuss, show off your marvelous work, rate them! Whether they be garments for any age, bags and purses, quilting related or home decor”. My sewing fairy godmother is also a member and we were planning on following Lladybirds Thurlow Sew-a-long together (I bought the pattern last month when said Fairy Godmother pointed out that Sewaholic had a sale on. Bad Fairy Godmother). A couple of other people wanted to join in with other but had other patterns, so it broadened out to a trouser-a-long. We’ve been supporting each other with the intimidating process that is fitting trousers, a kind of online self help group. We’ve been discussing muslins and processes on the facebook page and have set up a flickr group so that we can post photo’s of our rear ends and practise reading wrinkles and diagnosing adjustments. If you’re interested head on over to the facebook page to join in – you have to request to join but it’s a painless process.

    Along the way I got sidetracked (ok, confession time, I kept failing to buy printer paper to print out the Thurlow pattern) and I’ve actually started making the curvy fit trousers from Ottobre 2012/5 (no 10 on the alldesigns pdf). They’re designed for stretch cordroy/denim. Expect more posts on them soon, because I couldn’t find any on the blogosphere (please let me know if you come across any). In general I find their magazines great value and I love the size range of the models, but the instructions are rather minimal, so I thought I’d share my mistakes as if it helps just one person it’ll be worth it!

    Have you got any top tips to make the most of the wealth of information that is the online sewing community?

    Amy top

    So, back in May, I had some lovely green and black jersey fabric burning a whole in my stash and I wanted to make myself something with it to help me take part in Me Made May. I consulted the stashbusting group on facebook and someone suggested that I take a look at Style Arc patterns. This Australian company were new to me and I quickly fell in love with their drapey Billie top and the long sleeved Amy knit top. And then I found out that they don’t do pdf pattern’s, just paper copies, and you only buy one size at a time that. I didn’t think I could justify spending money on a pattern and shipping to get it round the world that may then when it reached me not turn out not to be the right size and I couldn’t make another one in a different size.

    I searched around for alternatives and found top number 4 in the drape drape book, which I decided I liked better than the Billie, so I made that.

    But I couldn’t stop thinking about the Amy top, so after consulting with a friend of mine in Australia to check the shipping rates were reasonable I bought it, on the excuse that it was nearly my birthday. The wait wasn’t too long and soon I had a pattern. I hadn’t used Style Arc before (and I’m not likely to use them more than rarely due to the shipping thing) so – first impressions. My size 16 pattern was printed on a huge sheet of paper (think printer paper, rather than tissue paper) to cut out, which suited me fine (although I’d still prefer a multi size). There were little divots marked for pattern markings rather than notches, which looked cute and potential useful. There was a sheet containing pattern illustration, a small sample of appropriate fabric and some very brief instructions.

    Suggested fabric sample: cool. Instrusctions: minimal

    Suggested fabric sample: cool. Instrusctions: minimal

    Still, I coped with the instructions being brief, it was a pretty simple make. And I spotted that I traced two identical sleeve pieces before cutting them (a favourite trick of mine forgetting to flip the pattern piece before tracing it a second time, that I’m only just starting to grow out of) – so that was fine. The only thing that foxed me was the instruction to “babylock” the hem ?! After an internet search I decided that a babylocker was a brand of overlocker and I don’t have one, so I used a twin needle instead.

    Completed Amy top

    Completed Amy style top in eyewatering thin stripes

    Pretty soon I had a top in some lovely fabric. But, well, it’s far from ideal.

    Front view

    Front view

    I was very disappointed when I tried it on. It didn’t look anything like the pattern illustration, which was a long thin top. Mine is more square. Hmm. Obviously this has something to do with my body shape and the fact that the illustrations are very pretty but on closer inspection appear to be of superhero’s (something I vaguely remember about how many heads high a cartoon is, superheroes have more heads in than mere mortals, someone like Andy Capp is only about 3 or 4 heads high). But I was still expecting the top to be longer and maybe to vaguely hint at my waist. I particularly don’t like where the middle of the curved hem falls at the crotch – just at the wrong place to frame, err, my crotch.

    I'm not liking where the hem sits - just high enough to show you all my crotch

    I’m not liking where the hem sits – just high enough to show you all my crotch

    I think there are a couple of obvious problems. Firsly, my fabric, which is great in itself, but not drapey enough for this pattern. It’s a good quality thick t shirt fabric which I foolishly thought would work, as it’s knit fabric and this is a top that requires knit fabric. But it’s the wrong kind of knit fabric. I wish I’d made a Coco dress out of it instead (I thought it was too thin for that, it probably wasn’t). The lack of drape is really noticable on the cowl neck, which just tends to stay folded in half standing pretty upright, rather than slouching about. I arrange it all slouchy when I put it on, but like my hair it doesn’t take long to pooh pooh my styling efforts and revert to form. The thickness really doesn’t help the body of the top too, adding to the tent effect that is happening from my bust downwards. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the small piece of suggested fabric, trouble is, I had this fabric in mind when I ordered it to be shipped around the world, so I didn’t really give it a second glance.

    back view

    back view, not so bad, but I think a little too much fabric around my lower back

    The other obvious problem is that I made this before I really knew what a Full Bust Adjustment was and certainly before I’d come to terms with the fact I needed to make one. In fact, this top is possibly the number one reason I got motivated to learn Full Bust Adjustments. I bought the pattern size based on my full bust measurement, if I’d gone with a smaller size and altered it maybe it would be a little less tent like elsewhere? Trouble is, as you only get one size, I can’t remake it now I have the power of FBA’s at my disposal.

    side view

    side view – strangley none of the modelling companies I sent this shot too have been back in touch

    Despite this, I have worn the top a lot. Because I love the fabric. And it hasn’t pilled like my Coco’s. Looking at these photo’s I think maybe i need to reuse the fabric and make a less fabric eating garment out of it – maybe a short sleeved t shirt (the boys looks good after all).

    check out the stripe matching

    check out the stripe matching

    I was very pleased with my construction on this, I felt at the time my garment making was stepping up a gear. The stripe matching is very good, if I say so myself, and the seam on the back of the cowl is nearly invisible. Oh, and before I forget, those side bits that you can tie. They’re too short to tie. Seriously. Not that I wanted to.

    Where is the seam on the cowl (left)

    Where is the seam on the cowl (left)

    It was my first time stitching in the ditch too. I was all logical and used a stretch stitch and it looks pretty messy (well, when you peer at it), especially where my concentration wavered and I went off line. I have subsequently used a long (length 3 out of a possible 4 on my machine) plain straight stitch on similar garments, which looks fine and has held up so far. Is that what I’m supposed to do?

    sitch in the ditch

    sitch in the ditch

    So, there you go, my most worn unflattering garment to date. Do you have something you wear lots despite not liking the fit?

    The one I gave away

    I gave away a top I made today. I took a quick photo before giving it away. Try and ignore the silly expression (I was in my friends house, with my husband taking a quick photo, being photobombed by three small twirly children whilst my friend and her sister looked on – not the ideal photo shoot). The thing is the fit.

    Akward photo

    Akward photo

    The top is the day to night drape top by Maria Denmark (yes, I seem to have a bit of a thing about her patterns and tutorials at the mo). With Birgitte sleeves, as suggested by Maria, because I don’t wear sleeveless tops. I made it in some petrel couloured jersey from a local shop that I now realise is very similar colour to one of the photographed example top’s on her website – this was not intentional! I’m not sure of the fabric content, but it’s very slinky and drapey and feels cold to the touch. It is, as I thought, quite a good choice for a drape neck, but it’s also a little clingy on me.

    But then that could be down to the size I cut. I steeled myself to do a full bust adjustment on a drape top. I was a little intimidated. But the pattern suggests using the same method I used before and I figured I just had to ignore the odd looking neckline and concentrate on the FBA. So, I measured my upper bust – 99cm, which corresponds to a large size (with bust measurement 102cm – the medium is 96cm), like I cut for my Birgitte’s. Then I measured my full bust – 103cm. Which is only 1cm above the large bust pattern size. Surely not. I measured again, and again, same answer each time. Surely a 1/2 cm FBA on my pattern piece is not worth it, especially when the pattern says a FBA is not needed for a C cup as there’s plenty of room in the bust.

    There are so many things I don't like about this photo, except the two blondes

    There are so many things I don’t like about this photo, except the two blondes

    So I blended a large top half of the pattern out to a 2XL waist/hip (which I needed) and cut and sewed that. The result is too annoyingly too tight around my girth despite my novice attempt at blending pattern sizes. Also, I see drag lines going horizontally across my cleavage (this is practically all I can focus on when I put the top on). Surely that means I should have done a FBA? What was I thinking of? Why not add 3cm like I did on both the Birgitte’s and the Kimono t shirt – after all, they’re the same pattern designer.

    So, I’ve given it away. Despite two friends telling me it looked nice. You know, I think I could live with it if I’d bought it, but it will just bug me no end every time I wore it if I kept it, knowing that I’d spent ages learning to fit t shirts for my bust and then not doing so on this one and then it not fitting properly. I’ve no idea what was going on when I measured myself. In the future, I will just do a 3cm FBA on all Maria Denmark t shirt patterns until my shape changes. End of.

    Another awkward photo

    Another awkward photo

    Oh, and sewing the pattern. Well, that was quite straightforward. The pdf came together easily (not sure if that’s Maria’s skill, a fluke or the fact that the paper size didn’t have to be translated to A4 from letter). It’s just two pieces, but I used the Birgitte sleeve too. What I didn’t do was use fold over or invisible elastic as instructed. I didn’t have any, I wasn’t confident of getting some locally, I didn’t need it on the armholes as I was using sleeves, I couldn’t see what good it was doing inside the drape and I thought I could live without it on the back of the neck. Oh and just possibly I was feeling a little impatient to get it done and didn’t want to wait till the shops were open and possibly wait longer still as if I had to resort to ordering online.

    That decision made starting difficult. I had though to make the top up and then decide if I could be bothered with finding elastic to finish it, but the instructions started with adding the elastic finish to the neck before doing anything else. A quick search later and I found this tutorial from Fehr Trade on cowl tops. Here the edges aren’t finished with elastic, horray, but the shoulder seam is stabilised with tape, which I don’t have. I used some hemming tape before on my Coco tops but I’m not sure it was quite the right product to use and I’ve since lost it.

    So, in true prolificprojectstarter slapdash style I decided that my folded over seam allowance for the back neckline was my facing and I followed the Fehr Trade buritto method for the shoulder seams. It was a little confusing when pinning as they kept rearranging themselves so I wasn’t sure which was the right side, but it worked fine. Then I just folded over and sewed down my back neckline, after all that worked on my drape drape asymmetric top and no one has ever noticed. And inside the cowl? – I left a raw edge. So, sue me, it won’t show and I’m pretty sure it won’t fray either.

    The sleeve attachment took a little jiggling. I cut the large Birgitte sleeves and they didn’t seem quite the right size for the armscye, but a little stretching (the joy of sewing with jersey) and it all worked out. It was also a bit wierd working out how to attatch around the cowl facing, maybe it would’ve worked better if I’d followed Maria’s instrustions, but I got round it. Then it was just hemming the bottom and sleeves, which I did with my double needle (still need to get some jersey interfacing to improve the look of that, ho hum, another thing I can’t get locally).

    In conclusion, construction was fine and dandy (if a little quick and dirty) but the fit was off – due to anomolies of measuring and deciding I didn’t need a FBA and exacerbated by clingy fabric. Anyway, my friend is very pleased to have a new top, she hadn’t tried it on when I left it with her, but she has an old shop bought top of mine that I gave away as it was a little too tight in the bust and so kept riding up (some kind of princess seam going on there) and that fits her fine (she wear’s it often, which is good to see as it’s a nice top), so I think it will be fine. And as she’s slightly taller than me I know she will appreciate the long post baby tummy covering length of this top (one day shops will catch on and make them for people to buy!).

    I have had enough of t shirts for a while (except possibly for a long sleeved one) and intend to focus on my new knit dress obsession (whilst still ignoring the pile of half finished stuff), but I will try this one again at some point, with a FBA, possibly emailing and asking for advice on sleeve sizing first, and quite probably not in blue (I never intended a new wardrobe full of blue t shirts, I like blue, and I was lacking blue t shirts, but I’m thinking I probably have enough now).