Chambray shirt-dress

I made a shirt-dress for the PR contest, starting with the Closet Case Patterns Kalle, out of a stashed chambray fabric I bought from a fabric shop that no longer exists.  Here is the guts of my PR review:

Recently I realised that cut on sleeves in wovens don't really work for me. I end up just ripping the armholes as I am getting about my daily business. I modified this pattern to make it sleeveless. I raised the armholes and took the armhole shaping from one of my self-drafted patterns and added a bust dart. 

I have a pear shaped figure, and decided that a flared dress would be more flattering than a straight one, so I flared the side seams from size 10 to size 18. The armhole I used was from a flared top. Because of the flared shape, I thought the curves of the hemline were a bit too severe, so I made them more gentle. (I actually love the original hem curves, which were the reason I bought the pattern, and I have copied them onto another pattern, but this time around I thought more gentle curves were better suited to the garment.

I made a muslin of the dress bodice to test my armhole and bust dart, and although I didn't sew a collar into the muslin, I could see that the neckline was not sitting well. Mostly the front neck was too high. Rather than correct it and play around with another muslin, I used a neckline from the Stylearc Angela woven blouse. Then instead of trying to measure and workout which of the Kalle collar bands and collar fit my new neckline, I just used the band and collar from the Angela as well. The Kalle has the shoulder seam at the top of the shoulder, which is unusual in a yoked shirt. Typically, the yoke extends to the front a bit, I think because this is a high wear section of the shirt. I move the shoulder seam forward, to match the Angela blouse, which made it easier to use the notches on the collar band.

I added an extra button to the placket because I decided to use multi-coloured buttons and wanted to fit one extra colour on the placket.

I like the idea for using a bias binding to finish the hem, and I have used this on other dresses, but when I was looking up the collar instructions on Craftsy, I found the section on sewing a curved hem, and so followed Janet Pray's directions for that too. It helped that my hem curves were more gentle than the original pattern.

In summary
Kalle - starting bodice, placket and pockets
Stylearc Angela - yoke, collar band, collar
Self drafted - armhole, bust dart, hem


Stylearc Elani Tunic mash-up

I have had a few instances where a woven garment with an extended sleeve has ripped horizontally under the armscye.  Sadly, my Stylearc Autumn dress ripped the first time I wore it.  (I have since repaired it and changed the sleeve to a cap sleeve).

I like the style of the Elani tunic, but decided I needed to put in a proper sleeve, to give me a little more room for movement.  I have done quite a bit of pattern drafting, but I am not all that experienced with drafting sleeves, so I went looking for a pattern in my stash that had the sort of sleeve I wanted.  I thought that a slightly dropped shoulder would suit the vibe of the Elani tunic.  Upon trawling through my pattern stash, I found that there are not too many patterns out there for a slightly dropped sleeve.  There are plenty for a fully dropped sleeve, but I thought I would have the same problems with that as I do with extended sleeve, given that the fully dropped sleeve appears to be tacked onto an extended sleeve anyway.  Eventually, I stumbled on Burda 5/2011 #111, which had the sort of sleeves I was looking for.

I sewed the facing down on the inside, as per in the instructions.  It can be tricky to get the facing to match up well with the garment, in my experience, so usually I don't do this, but it worked out okay this time.  I changed the sleeve hem to a double fold hem, turned up, rather than use a sleeve facing.  Looks like I might need to add a bit more room for my prominent shoulder bones.

You can see the sleeve seam in the photo below.  I kept the original high low hem of the Elani.

The fabric is a rayon challis from Imagine Gnats

I have fallen off the wagon with Me-Made-May due to illness, but this top has featured twice already.



Fiesta Dress

I was invited to a party that requested dressing in the "Mexican Fiesta" theme. 

I decided to go with a Mexican themed fabric, rather than a traditional Mexican style of dress.  I found this very funky fabric from Voodoo Rabbit, which has rather a lot of Mexican themed fabrics to choose from.  There was only 1.9 m left of this 112 cm wide fabric, so my options were limited.

The skirt portion of the dress is from The Papercut Patterns Bustier Dress.  The Bustier Dress was part of their first collection, and I don't think it is available any more, so no link to the pattern.  The top half of the dress is self-drafted.  The fabric is an Alexander Henry quilting cotton, and has a tendency to stretch out whilst being worn.  It was a quick sew, with none of the internal structure that is really required in a strapless or one-shoulder dress, so stretching out could potentially lead to a wardrobe malfunction.  I decided to add a shoulder strap to mitigate this problem, but don't have any photos of the dress with the strap.


Reversible Anorak Jacket

Last year, when I was buying all fabrics olive and peach, EmmaOneSock was selling a fabric that was olive on one side and peach on the other.  So I snapped it up, but never got to making it up.  PR is holding a reversible garment competition at the moment, which provided the mojo for me to make up this plan from last year.

Her is my review entry for the Stylearc Romy Anorak.

Pattern Description: The description given by Stylearc is "This weekend Anorak is a great addition to your wardrobe. Make the Anorak in a lovely washed charmeuse or lightweight wool for a luxurious yet casual look. Wear the jacket open or zip it up to create a cosy look. The collar is soft and will sit beautiful opened or buttoned up. This anorak is unlined and comes with an optional tie belt."

Pattern Sizing:I made a Size 12 based on the Stylearc size chart. I am happy with this choice in size.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?I made quite a few changes, but it is still recognisable.

Were the instructions easy to follow?I didn't use them, because of all my changes.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?Like all Stylearc pattern, the design lines of this seem very current. I liked the idea of a soft jacket with oversized collar, which is why I bought the pattern, but this time around I have shrunken the proportions and my fabric is not soft or drapy. I would still like to follow the fabric suggestions and make another version in a softer fabric.

Fabric Used:I used a stretch cotton twill with a crisp drape. One side of the fabric is army green and the other side is peach. The base of the fabric is white, and it feels like the colour has been painted onto each side. I didn't pre-wash the fabric as I wanted to stitch it all together before washing, to give it more of that washed-jeans sort of look once it is washed. Because of the design and ease, I don't think it will matter if the fabric shrinks a bit with the first wash.

I chose a contrasting fabric for the collar. I didn't like the look of the whole collar showing the other colour when the collar is open, so I went for a contrasting, soft, minky fleece.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Changes for fit:
- Made the shoulder dart much larger, to accommodate a very square shoulder.
- removed some fabric at the armhole edge of the upper front, to accommodate a narrow chest.
- the collar piece was adjusted to match these changes

Style changes:
- Shortened the jacket by about 8 inches
- Shortened the sleeve by 3 inches
- reduced the width of the collar by about an inch
- I omitted the drawstring at the hem
- Stylearc recommends French seams for a clean finish, which is a great idea for reversibility, but they only provide 1 cm seam allowances. 1 cm was pretty tight for my fabric choice, so I increased the seam allowances to 15 mm.

Changes for reversibility
- I didn't attempt the zipper. Other reviewers have struggled with the placement of the zip and buttons, and I wouldn't be able to buy a reversible zip locally, so I thought it would be easiest to just forego the zip and use snaps on the front closure. I think there are other anorak patterns out there that do a better job of the zip / zip instructions. I didn't realise until the 11th hour that my snaps have one good side and one "back" side. I decided to use them anyway, and put the back side on the green fabric, which has more of an industrial vibe.
- No zip so no need for front facings
- I made "hem bands" to finish all the edges (hem, front closure, sleeve cuffs) so that the wrong colour would not be folded to the other side (as it would in a traditional hem)
- I added elastic to the sleeve cuffs
- instead of a waist tie, I made a casing and threaded elastic through it to draw in the back waist. 
- I wanted pockets on each side. I didn't want layers of fabric at the seams that were going to be French seamed, so where I combined the original front panels and them split them up again, so that as many seamed sections as possible were single layer. I split a horizontal section for the waist casing. I split upper and lower panels into "thirds".
- I didn't want flaps on the inside pockets, so I changed the pocket design. I also had to change the pocket size and placement because I made the jacket shorter. In the end I chose patch pockets for the green side. The patch pockets were sewn onto the back of the pink pockets. The pink pockets were the whole size of the pocket panel, so that the patch pocket did not show through to the other side. For the pink pockets, I took inspiration from a RTW hiking jacket that I have had for 20 years. The upper pockets have a pleated flap that hides a zippered pocket. I lined this pocket with lightweight liberty. The flap neatly covers my zips, which do not colour match the jacket. I'm not sure how to describe the lower pockets...you will have to look at the photos!

There was a lot of changing of thread and bobbin. I'm pretty pleased that I only had to pull out one seam because I sewed it in the wrong colour thread. Sadly, my machine makes a nicer top stitch than bobbin stitch. I did play around with the tension and settings, but the stitching on one side definitely looks better than the other.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?I would like to sew this pattern again, more in the fabric / style that it was intended.

Conclusion: I love the finished result. Thinking through the pockets was a bit of a brain drain, but I got there in the end. I can't decide which side of the jacket I like best, so I guess that makes for a successful reversible garment!


10 x 10 wardrobe challenge, autumn '18

I just finished my first attempt at the 10 x 10 wardrobe challenge, created by Style Bee.

Here are my thoughts on the process:

1.  Why did I participate?  I understand the allure of capsule wardrobes, and they are very pin-worthy, but I never had the desire to live within the confines of a capsule.  I love sewing.  Beautiful fabrics soothe my soul.  I am drawn to print and colour, and nobody ever starts out a capsule by grabbing all their vibrant, colourful clothes.  I am going on a 3 week holiday later this year, and I am thinking about doing it just with carry-on luggage, and I thought this challenge would be good practice for that.  The other thing that I liked about this particular challenge is that it did not involve making or buying new clothes.  It seems many of those espousing capsule waredrobes for their minimalism and anti-consumerist ethics start by purging their wardrobes and then have to buy / make new clothes to fill the gaps in their ideal capsule.

2.  How did I choose the 10 items? One of my problems with this sort of challenge is that as soon as I have to come up with any sort of mix and match scheme, I default back to boring.  Planning clothes is not my strength.  My favourite garments are those which I have made out of creative use of remnants, whilst many of my planned garments get left unworn.  I started with the most neutral clothes in my cupboard.  I wanted to see if these olive green pants would work for my holiday.  When I was making them, I thought they would be the most versatile garment I ever owned, but it turns out that I have not work them very often.  I then chose tops to match the green pants, and went from there.  Initially I had more woven tops planned, but I swapped these out for t-shirts when I realised that we were going camping halfway through the challenge.  There will be quite a few days hiking on my holiday, so this change fits.  I also changed a pair of white shorts for the green ones.  Every time I wore the white tee I spilt food on it, so I thought white shorts might mot be so good for a holiday where I will only be washing clothes occasionally.

3.  What did I learn? I did learn that 10 items is not enough for the laundry cycle in my house.  I need to be able to dress for a week.  One of those combos above is pretty dismal, but I had to leave the house in a hurry and just grabbed what I could find and the nearest of the 2 pairs of shoes.  Accessorizing for me just means choosing a necklace.  Hot weather does not lend itself to layering, or scarves, and I will not have a selection of bags on holiday.  I will have a hat, but it will be a squashable sort of hat rather than a stylish accessory.  I did accessorise with a jacket one time, which is sort of cheating, but it was windy one of the camping evenings, and I didn't think I needed to suffer for the sake of this challenge.  

4.  Will it work for my holiday?  I think it is a start, but I like the idea of the "pair and a spare 5-4-3-2-1 packing guide" better.  This way I can add in 1 or 2 dresses (or maybe a pretty silk top).  I will take the flat shoes above, but have a different pair of sandals in mind (that I am hoping will go on sale soon), and my third pair of shoes will be sneakers for hiking and long sight-seeing days.

5.  Will I do this challenge again?  Actually, I think I will do it again before my holiday, hopefully to come up with more interesting, yet versatile, outfits.  Improvement through practice.  Our favourite boardgame at the moment is Hive.  My kids, who are all very good at this game, were relying on the same moves over and over, so I changed the rules so that we can't see the pieces before we use them, or so that each team uses their pieces in the same order.  I think if I did the same sort of thing with my 10 x 10 eg just wear whatever for 4 days and then mix up those clothes into outfits for the next 6 days, I might get a better result than if I planned out my wardrobe in the beginning.