Thursday, 29 September 2016

PR Sewing Bee Round 3 Challenge - The Colette Rue Dress

I made it to the third round of the PR Sewing Bee! My second round entry is here. The competition is hotting up now and this challenge was a lot harder than the first two. We were to make a Colette Rue dress, but put our own 'spin' on it. This may not sound too bad, but my feeling is that the 'spin' needs to be pretty amazing to make the cut in this round, not to mention the perfect sewing required.

Colette Rue Dress
The Rue Dress is a vintage-inspired design with a fitted bodice and two skirt options. While I love this 40s style on some people, it is not my thing at all. To make this wearable and fitting with my style it needed to be modernised and made into a more flattering shape for my body type. I didn't want to change the pattern too much though. It still needed to retain the essence of the Rue. I thought long and hard about what to do and eventually came up with this design.

I used View B of the pattern with the slimmer skirt. The bodice was redrafted to move the curved pieces away from the centre and towards the sides. The curves were redrawn and the new style lines continued down into the skirt and made into pockets. The sleeves were omitted as we are heading into summer. In addition to the design changes, I needed to make numerous fitting alterations, mainly to the bodice. I wanted the curved pieces below the bust, rather than on it, so that required some fiddling with the two curved pattern pieces and the bust pleats - not easy. I also needed to lengthen the bodice and lower the armholes (complete list of changes available here)

Here are the alterations I made to the two front bodice pieces. This alone took many muslins!

I chose this floral stretch denim fabric bought ages ago from Potter Textiles. The dress is lined with a cream floral cotton voile and the piping is made from polka dot fabric from the shorts I made in Round 1 of the Sewing Bee.

I was as precise and careful as possible with matching the piping at all the seam lines and the neckline. As for the invisible zip, let me just take a bow. I think it's the best I've ever done!

This process was difficult and stressful and took many hours. I often had a houseful of hungry teenage boys and my time limit was reduced by three days as I'm attending a felting course this week. A couple of muslins in, I did contemplate not completing this challenge. I emailed my sister who said that if she'd been doing it, the dress would have been a ball on the floor by now. That suddenly made me realise how long it's been since I hurled a sewing project at the wall (a fairly common occurrence in the early days). My gosh, maybe I have actually come quite a long way, if only in controlling my sewing hissyfits. I was spurred on to finish. Thanks sis!

I am really happy with the finished dress. It is a bit of a departure from my usual style, but still feels like me. My favourite thing is the pockets and how they blend into the new style lines. I am also very proud of the sewing I did here. Fingers crossed I make it to the final round of the competition.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Patrones magazine bias-cut dress 10/2013 #20 for the Sewing Bee

I have entered the Pattern Review Great British Sewing Bee competition this month*. The first challenge was to make a pair of shorts or capri pants. My polka dot capris will be blogged soon. Suffice to say, they got me through the first round. Challenge number two was a bias cut garment. 

Bias cut? I never make bias cut garments. They have a habit of showing lumps and bumps I'd rather keep well hidden. This was a challenge indeed. After examining and rejecting every pattern in my arsenal I finally turned to my stack of Patrones magazines. I love those magazines, they have interesting and lovely designs. I flicked through the pattern layouts and looked at anything that was cut on the bias. Eventually I settled on this dress.

This is dress number 20 from the October 2013 issue of Patrones Extra Magazine (No 33).  It is completely bias cut, but is not too clingy. The skirt is quite full and the ruffles add some extra interest.

I chose a lovely cotton voile with an abstract print that I had bought from a Morrison (Australian designer) sale a few months ago.

This light fabric required careful sewing and I used French seams throughout (inside picture above). This was tricky as the fabric wanted to gather along every stitching line. I also had big problems working out how to French seam the neckline flounce. It took me three goes before I got the right side showing!

The flounce follows the neckline and then extends past it down the front of the dress. The hem of the flounce and all the other hems of the dress are finished with a rolled hem on the overlocker. The flounce has a bit of hand beading on it too.

The skirt is made up of ten pieces, all different and asymmetrical. There are ruffles along four of the seam lines and the hem dips at the front and back.

The back has a slight racer back, which is nice with the ruffle falling over the shoulders.

This dress was quite involved to make, not least because the instructions were in Spanish so no use at all to me! It took quite some working out just to determine which pieces were meant to go where, let alone how to sew them together. It seemed to work in the end though and I didn't have any pieces left over, so something went right!

 I am very happy with this dress. The bias cut bodice is fitted, but not too tight. The skirt is swishy and cute and the ruffles and print distract from lumpy areas beneath. Now to sew some of those other gorgeous Patrones patterns I've remembered after searching for this one!

*There is no public voting in this competition, a judging panel makes all the decisions. There are four rounds in total.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Pilvi Coat Dress - Named Clothing Evolution Theory Collection

The Pilvi Coat Dress was the second pattern I tested from the Evolution Theory Collection by Named (see my Talvikki Sweater here).

The Pilvi Coat Dress by Named Patterns

I love that Named often produce patterns with a difference with clean lines and cool details.

The Pilvi is a double-breasted, fitted coat dress made from knit fabric. It is a really lovely pattern with princess seam detail, pockets and a belt with loops incorporated into the side seams. The style works equally well as a coat or a dress.

The back seams ensure a great fit.

The instructions recommend a medium-weight, knit fabric with 40% stretch. I used 2.5m of a bone-coloured ponte from Remida. The front overlapping sections are stabilised with knit interfacing. I unfortunately used interfacing with less than 40% stretch and have a bit of pulling around the bust as a result. Bummer. Check your interfacing before you iron it on!

The instructions are very clear and well illustrated and the pattern is well drafted, as is usual with Named patterns. The pattern would suit advanced beginners. One thing I love about Named patterns is that when I print them on A4 paper, there are no margins to cut off so you can get straight to the sticking-together stage. This is a huge time saver! I don't know whether this is also the case with US letter paper.

What can I say, another successful Named pattern. I love them all and I've been wearing this coat dress a lot since I made it.

 Named, you rock!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Named Evolution Theory Collection - Talvikki Sweater

In case you haven't heard, Named Clothing have just released their new collection. It is called Evolution theory and I think it might be their best yet. I am planning to work my way through most of the pieces! I was fortunate to have tested two of the new patterns and this one has already been worn a lot!

This is the Talvikki sweater. A stylish and simple design with interesting dart details at the front and back neckline, side splits and a high/low hemline. Just the right number and combination of features for a perfect design.

I made mine from lovely French terry fabric in grey marle from Potter Textiles. I am wearing it above with StyleArc Lola pants in the same fabric, but it works equally well with jeans (Named Jamie Jeans, below) and other combinations.

This is an easy garment to sew and the instructions are clear with helpful diagrams. I made a size 40 according to the size chart and the fit is loose and comfy.

You can see the darts that shape the neckline in the pictures above and below. Top Tip: use very stretchy knit interfacing on the neckline facing or it won't go over your head!

I love the gently curved, longer back.

 Actually, I love everything. This is so comfortable and cosy, I never want to take it off!

This one's a winner!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Vogue 8962 tunic

This pattern had been waiting to be made for far too long. So long, in fact, that is now out of print. I'm so pleased I finally made it though as it's a really nice style.

Vogue 8962

Vogue 8962 is a tunic, skirt and pants pattern. The tunic has an optional cowl neckline, which I made, interesting seam lines and a high-low hem.

Hopefully you can see some of the outfit in the poorly-lit pictures. I am wearing the tunic with my Paprika Patterns Jade skirt and a new pair of Megan Nielsen Virginia leggings from lovely, stretchy, warm ponte from Spotlight.

 Oops, I seem to have lost the skirt! Here it is with some higher boots instead.

This was a very simple pattern to make. I used some lovely wooly knit fabric in grey from Potter Textiles. There wasn't quite enough grey to do the cowl neck, so I used another patterned, knitted remnant from Potter's for the neck and lower sleeves. It coordinates very well with many things.

If you have this pattern I would definitely recommend it. It is flattering and comfortable and I will certainly be making more.

So there.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Undies for all the family - Free patterns

I don't usually post my handmade undies, but I have recently used two excellent free patterns and I had to share the love. 

Joost de Cock boxer briefs line drawing

The first pattern was for men's boxers. This is a really comfortable and well thought out pattern by Joost de Cock. Not only is it free, but the pattern is custom made to your guy's measurements so it fits perfectly. There are several other patterns too. Joost's custom pattern website is amazing and must have been an incredible amount of work. If you like it do consider donating to buy him a coffee or two and say thanks!

I started with a pair of boxers for my husband. I created a profile for him on Joost's website and put in the necessary measurements. The resulting pattern was very quick to tape together and it took only about five minutes to whizz up the seams on the overlocker. Before adding the elastic and finishing the hems, I decided to have a play with my coverstitch machine. I was experimenting so don't look too closely!

As soon as I showed these to my husband, he excitedly put them on. The fit was perfect and much prancing and strutting ensued (him, not me). I will spare you any pictures of that and show you the boxers with an assortment of fruit to give an idea of fit (sorry!). These have a double line of two-needle coverstitching on the seams.

Spurred on by my success I decided to have a go at making more boxers for my teen and pre-teen sons. I wasn't sure that the custom pattern would go small enough for their slim sizes, but it did. As before I used cotton lycra with two way stretch. This time I used slightly different coverstitching.

Again the fit was perfect. I was really pleased about this as I have been making boxers for my sons for years (they refuse to wear anything else) and grading up my simple, self drafted pattern as they grew. It had just about got to the stage where the fit was no longer quite right and a new approach was needed, so this came just in time.

The only part I altered here was to curve the tip of the front dart slightly so it wasn't quite so pointy. However, I have just noticed while writing this that Joost coverstitches this seam as well right up to the waistband, which would smooth off this area.

Here is the back:

So there we are, perfectly fitting boxers for all the men and boys - fantastic!

But wait, there's more! Not content with being the only member of the household without a sporty pair of blue underwear, I whizzed myself up a pair of knickers using the free Noelle pattern by Madalynne. These are very high waisted so I took 3cm off the top. I also sized down one size from that indicated by my measurements. The result - perfectly fitting and super-comfortable. I love these.

Let the undies party commence!


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