Spring is for floating around in dresses made of fairy wings, right?! I got a jump start on my favourite season with this dress. It might still be a little cool to wear it right now, but those days aren’t far away.
I shouldn’t scare you though. It isn’t really that tricky to sew at all. The key is in keeping to a simple pattern and taking your time. Believe it or not, but the crinkle appearance and print also make it a very forgiving fabric to sew, particularly since it is a fabric that suits a looser fitting design.
I kept the design of this dress incredibly simple. The neckline and armscye are simply narrow hems. No binding. The silk presses beautifully. It’s a pullover style. The design is loosely based on a drop-waist dress pattern I made for myself years ago. I just turned the bodice into a high-low shape and added an extra gathered panel.
I’m wearing a simple black slip underneath. The only one I owned was tunic length, so I added a panel of leftover black lining (from this coat) to achieve the length I desired.
I love this dress! I’m envisioning a whole wardrobe of sheer dresses now. Stop me!
Unless my memory fails me, this was the second Grainline Archer I ever made. I think I ended up getting the fit right on my third try. I still wore the original version of this shirt, but it’s become way too tight across my shoulders since my return to the pool.
It was time to put this shirt to better use. I was lucky enough to have a decent sized remnant of the original fabric in my stash which meant I could go to town with my flounces. As beautiful as they are, flounces are very big fabric hogs!
I wish I took photos of my refashion during the process. I didn’t. However, I’ve drawn a few diagrams to help. It wasn’t a complicated refashion. I started by cutting off the sleeves of the shirt. Then I pencilled my intended seam on the remainder of the shirt. The diagram below shows the new seam I created. The front seam is red (on the front shirt pieces) and the back seam is green (imagine it on the back shirt pieces). Both are connected at the shoulder seam. I wanted the diagonal seam to be wider at the shoulder yoke seams and more medially placed towards the shirt hem. I brought the seam closest to the CF in the front of the shirt. The scariest bit was cutting along this seam and keeping both sides exactly even! After cutting, I then had three shirt pieces that I needed to stitch back together, taking into account the new seam allowances that would be eating into my shirt size!
For the flounce, I simply measured the entire length of the new seam and used that as a reference for the curved edge of a flounce. A flounce pattern piece is basically a big circle. I made mine a bit wider at the centre point (the area covering the shoulders). I also added an extra four inches (approx.) to the length of my flounce as I knew I wanted to add a couple of pleats over the shoulder region. The diagram below is an approximate representation of my flounce piece. Imagine it trued and smooth in real life!
I faced the flounce with self-bias-binding before I sandwiched it between the pieces of shirt. And once the flounce was attached and the shirt was in one piece again, I tried it on. I used 1cm seam allowances with my new seam so I knew that I lost exactly 8cm in shirt girth by inserting the flounce (2cm on each front and back seam). To compensate this, I decided to add contrast white panels down the sides of the shirt. This alteration in turn, would eat up another 2cm on each side of the shirt. So, I measured 8cm wide panel pieces to attach to the sides. The panel width is 6cm (incl. 2cm of seam allowances). These side panels returned the shirt to the same shirt-fit as before. I then bound the armscye and hemmed the bottom a little straighter and shorter than before.
I’m not joking when I say that this is my new favourite skirt. I’ve already worn it a lot. It pairs beautifully with skirts for an elegant evening look. But I also love it with jeans when I’m aiming for polished casual.
I hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas! We had a great day, but not a white Christmas in Kansas. However, I believe we are expecting snow any day now, so it could be a special white birthday for Miss Five tomorrow.
Santa was very generous this year. The big guy bought a joint present for all my girls, in the form of a very basic, but well reviewed, Brother XL-2610 sewing machine. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a learning machine for my kids (and I wasn’t about to share my Pfaff), but I did want them to have a machine that would be simple to use and reasonably sturdy. So far the machine is working well and the girls are finding it easy to develop confidence on. And because it’s not my precious machine, I’m happy to let them play on it alone without too much anxiety.
At the moment, we’re still working on threading the machine and sewing straight lines at a precise distance from the fabric edge, but I’m happy to report that Miss Five has proclaimed it the best present from Santa this year.
And while we’re talking about Christmas, I thought I’d share a few little sweaters I made for my girls using an old Kwik Sew pattern in my stash. I modified it slightly to block in a few different fabrics and lengthen the bodice, but otherwise I left it pretty unchanged.
Miss Seven’s sweater was made up in a size 8. It’s pretty roomy on her, but my big girls grow like weeds so I always err on the larger size with them. The bodice length is extremely short in the pattern so I also lengthened it by 2 inches before adding the bottom band. The black portion of the sweater is from a new merino jersey sweater of mine (that was too small). The ivory ruffles and tiger fabric were both small remnants in my scrap basket and specifically chosen by the recipients.
Miss Five’s sweater is mostly tiger fabric, with a little merino trim. I made this one as a tunic to incorporate the ivory trim better. I also made a standard version of this pattern for her in rainbow French terry. It’s a very simple and practical raglan pattern.
If it seems like I only own two patterns at the moment, well that is probably not far from the truth. Even my mannequin, Alice, is wrapped in plastic and ready to take her (rather undignified) place amongst the boxes we have chosen to store while we are away.
Of course, I actually have two large boxes crammed to the brim with sewing patterns, but half of them have already made it to Kansas and the other half are boxed up for storage. Choosing which ones to take and which ones to leave behind was quite a big task. I dread the thought of carting around unused baggage for the next few years, nearly as much as I dread missing that painstakingly custom modified pattern that I unfortunately decided not to take with me.
I currently only have a small selection on hand (that will also come to Kansas with me later). New Look 6016 is one of them. I have lost track of how many times I have used this pattern. Most recently, I am finding it exceedingly useful in making simple knit tops, dresses and tights for ALL of my daughters even though it only goes up to a size 4. But I do find the sizing to be extremely large, something I am still muddling my way through in terms of fit. The problem with children, well my girls at least, is that apart from the standard chest and height measurements, any other fitting efforts are near impossible. It is like pinning a dress to a live eel! So I pretty much rely on my best guesses as to whether I should lengthen, shorten or slim down any parts of the pattern.
I think this dress worked out reasonably well. The wool will keep her warn and it looks like it will allow a little room for movement and growth. It is basically a modified version of the long sleeve top in the pattern. I used up all the scraps from my recent makes (here and here), as well as my last little bit of Lodden Blue Liberty. For the neckline, I found a band of black bamboo ribbing in my stash (If I ever have any little sraps of ribbing/stretch knit, I always cut a few neckband/cuff width strips and store it away like this for convenience. One of these bands came in useful for this dress because I simply didn’t have enough fabric for a matching neckband.)
I started out with a size 2 and made the following modifications:
created a mid panel, purely because I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the entire bodice as one. The top panel is a heavier wool ponte and the mid panel is a lighter weight wool jersey. I used the lengthen/shorten line as a seamline
lengthened the arms by 2cm and added the curved panels at the end of the sleeves
lengthened the entire top to the Size 4 guide
Added the Liberty of London ruffle to the bottom hem
And here is a still shot of the dress from the back. The front had too many dribble patches on it from our brief photo shoot!
I think it will look better with tights but I couldn’t subject Miss Two to long pants in our summer heat. I’m actually surprised I got any decent photos today. Most of them were like this, but blurry. She’s only little but she sure can move.
I have suddenly become a little obsessed with drop waist dresses. I’m not quite sure what happened but I woke up a few days ago and everything in my wardrobe seemed dated. I was craving something much like this!
My first port of call was to track down the marvellous Malvarosa dress pattern by Pauline Alice that I had seen a while back. Of course, at that point, I couldn’t remember the name of either the dress, blog or designer, and when I searched my bloglovin account, I couldn’t find it there either…disaster! So after racking my brain, Marvelosa, Malarosa….and fruitlessly searching Ebay and Etsy for other suitable matches for the picture in my head, I finally ended up drafting my own design with the help of Alice (my beloved dress mannequin).
After creating the pattern pieces, I decided to create a wearable muslin using a cotton knit rather than use my ‘nice’ fabric right off the bat. I chose the cotton knit for two reasons. I have a tendency to misjudge the amount of ease I need when I drape on Alice, and secondly, I wanted to use up a fabric that I wasn’t quite sure I loved anymore. I must also add that halfway through cutting my own design, I had a massive moment of doubt, finally tracked down the Malvarosa pattern, and purchased it.
But I really shouldn’t have doubted myself! I love the way my dress turned out and I love this fabric all over again. I don’t regret purchasing my Malvarosa pattern as I might still make a long sleeve version of this in a few months time, using my own bodice pieces as a guide (assuming they fit as well in a woven fabric).
Did I mention that I purchased 3m of that Marc Jacobs cotton knit fabric?! It would have been a good amount if not for the leg placement disaster of my own playsuit. But as it happened, I had enough for one more little top dress.
I had been eyeballing the Little Truck Stop Top for months but finally decided to get out there and purchase it, even though I knew it was still going to be a few sizes too big for my littlest girl.
As I’ve already mentioned, this little project was to use up the last bits of my Marc Jacobs knit. I also pieced together about six tiny lengths of some Liberty leftovers to make a beautiful bottom ruffle. I am a little obsessed with Liberty of London cotton right now so it might feature again pretty soon.
I cut the pattern to a size 7. It is way too big but it doesn’t gape immodestly. Miss Coco has not yet decided whether she will wear it as a dress or a nightie to rival her swishing sister.
And by the way, I managed to ‘roll’ the neck binding beautifully this time. I was so pleased with how it turned out after my earlier efforts, that I decided to push on and bind the sleeves before I went to bed. Wrong! I was obviously sleep-sewing. As you can see, I bound them the wrong way again so this is why there is no lovely ‘roll’ on the armscye.
With the recent rainy weather, I realised I was a bit low on trans-seasonal tops. Lucky for me, I had some gorgeous soft jersey from a recent trip to Tessuti Fabrics. I am a bit fussy about what prints I like on jersey fabrics, but this one managed to catch my eye. Unfortunately, I only purchased one metre of it so I had to top it up with my stash of super soft modal/silk in order to complete the top. I think I quite like the colour blocking after all. And the end result is a top so soft and comfy, that I’m not totally sure I won’t be wearing it 24/7.