Sunday, 15 April 2018

Swaying palms: Vogue 9021 dress and a bonus Style Arc Skye top

Here we are mid April and Sydney is still having very hot days in the mid 30s. The upside of this very prolonged summer is that I got another wear out of this dress very tropical palm print dress that I made over a month ago. It has been extremely windy the past few days though, hence the inside shots for this blog post.

palm print dress

This is Vogue 9021, a very easy Vogue pattern that is still for sale even though it was released a few years ago now. And true to its label it is indeed a very easy dress to sew since it has very simple lines and there's not much to it really except for those sleeves! I bought this on sale at one of Spotlight's fantastic $5 Vogue pattern sales late last year.
If you google this pattern you'll see that many ladies have made a version of this but I was particularly inspired to make this pattern by this very elegant navy version over at He Cooks She Sews! and this very pretty floral version by Gabrielle at Up Sew Late. I had been searching for some navy blue crepe to make this dress, but I ended up using a very colourful palm print cotton sateen I purchased from Gardams Fabrics in Brisbane at the beginning of this year so in a way I was very influenced by both versions.

As I said, those sleeves are the stand out feature of this pattern and the extreme batwing / fluttery shape really caught my eye.

batwing palm print dress

I usually treat patterns that only have illustrations on the envelope and not photos of the actual garment with extreme suspicion and this one proves my cynicism correct - those sleeves may look lovely but as loads of people have pointed out they pretty much give a direct view to your entire torso if you lift your arms even slighlty:

This is pretty obvious though when you look at the technical drawing of the pattern - those sleeves are open to just a few centimetres above the waistline:

I tried to think of a clever solution, such as making a gusset from the dress fabric that would be sewn from the front darts around the side to the back darts, or perhaps a camisole style top to be an under layer and also attached to the waistline. But it's been too hot to think in these parts and certainly too hot to wear more layers of fabric than necessary so I just did what everyone else had done and sewed up the side seam a little higher until it was decent.

Sewing the side seams up higher does change the look and the way the sleeves fall though. In the photo below, you can see how the sleeve on my left side where I've pinned the side seam up to my bra strap looks more like a traditional sleeve than my right shoulder where it seems the fabric is just draped around my shoulders.

But it was a change I had to live with if I didn't want every one to see not just my bra but my blindingly white midriff as well, and really the change is probably subtle anyway.

batwing dress

Once the sleeves were resolved, the rest of the pattern is very simple and easy to sew. The back skirt has a split along the centre back seam which isn't my favoured treatment because it has the tendency to tear open but when I was cutting out the pattern I forgot to add extra width there to make a vent so I was stuck with it. The dress is not too tight though, so it should be ok.

palm print batwing dress

palm print batwing dress

Even though this dress used a lot of fabric because of those extremely wide sleeves, I had some leftover fabric that I managed to eke out a Style Arc Skye top. This is my go to pattern for a simple top because it doesn't use much fabric and is very quick to sew. I think this might be my fourth or fifth version.

palm print top

palm print top

Whilst it's still very striking in this fabric, it's a bit more versatile than the dress because it looks great when worn with pants or jeans.

palm print top

I'm pretty happy that I finally found the right fabric to make this dress, and that I made the most of the beautiful fabric. Gotta love it when things just work out just the way you want them to!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

New Look 6013: dress for our never ending summer

So here we are at Easter at the beginning of April and it's still sweltering hot here in Sydney. For all of you in the northern hemisphere where it's still snowing I'm sure we share the same sentiments - enough of this extended weather patterns, it's time for a change in season!

But it has given me an opportunity to finish and wear another summer dress that I cut out at the beginning of the year but hadn't yet finished. I tend to cut out a lot of projects in batches to make the most of my sewing time, but the danger in that approach is that sometimes I don't get around to finishing them and they become UFOs.

Not this time though! This is New Look 6013, one of those wardrobe patterns with a few different garments in one. I bought this pattern from one of those marvellous Spotlight bargain sales mainly for the jacket because I love a shawl collar.

I hadn't really planned on making the dress because I have two other similar patterns (Burda 3/2009 #107 and Vogue 8319) which I made the Vogue dress way back in 2010 in this post. I loved that dress and only stopped wearing it because after many washes the fabric was very faded. I can't believe I made that dress eight years ago now - time does fly by!

I bought some cotton linen in a blue polka dot print from Spotlight during their January sale earlier this year and figured it was perfect for this pattern so I made it up anyway. It has turned out great, but it took quite a bit of fiddling around with the fit to get it right though. The neckline sat way lower than it looks in the photo pattern, the top of those vertical darts on the front sat closer to my waistline than my bust and the underarm seam was so low that my bra strap was visible. Not a good look.....

So I did a quick and a bit dodgy fix which worked out fine. While I was wearing the dress I lifted it up by the shoulder seams until the dress felt like it was in the right position but not too tight under the arms and basically pinned out a new shoulder seam. I sewed a new seam line almost 4cm lower than the original shoulder seam, so you can see how much excess space there is in that area.

I checked the pattern pieces to make sure I didn't cut out a larger size (it's a multi sized pattern) but I cut the right bits out so I can't explain it. Lifting it up at the shoulder seam also brought the hem up to the right spot for me so this fix sorted out a few problems. It still sits a bit low at the front and back neckline but it's not inappropriate so I can live with it.

Apart from that fitting issue it's a pretty straight forward pattern. The princess seams make it easy to get a nice fit through my sway back, and it has a vent to make it easy to walk in.

I've fully lined this in a thin cotton lawn in white because the polka dot fabric is a bit see through but it doesn't add any bulk to the dress. I haven't made this overly fitted like I usually do - I figured a good bit of ease is necessary for a summer dress and I knew this fabric would probably bag out a little anyway.

Whilst I like how this dress turned out in the end I'm not sure I'll make this pattern again, mainly because I prefer how the Vogue pattern that I made previously fits much better than this one. But with the high temps we're having at the moment it's just what I needed.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Vintage Butterick 4379 - polka dot summer dress

I originally made this swinging sixties dress back in December last year. I wish I could say that it's been work frequently over the summer just past, but in reality the fit wasn't quite right and after just two wears it has been sitting in my "to-fix" pile for the last few months. I love the fabric and the dress so I got over my laziness and made myself fix it.

This is a 1966 pattern that has been in my stash a long time and I've wanted to make it for such a long time. The main feature of this pattern is the tie neckline, but it gave me all sorts of problems trying to get it comfortable. The neckline in the pattern is quite wide, as it has a fold over component:

The neckline is cut on the bias and I didn't quite have enough fabric to cut it out in piece, hence the unsightly seem down the centre front. The first time I sewed this I found it sat too high, just under my chin, so I ended up trimming 3cm off the top of the front of the dress so that it sat lower at front. And then it still felt too tight, so I redid the zipper so that it finished well below the neckband hoping that would fix it. It felt slightly better, but after wearing it twice it did feel too constrictive and it looked like I had no neck. The photos below are the original neckline:

So to fix this, I unpicked the neckline once again and cut off that extension tab. So now the band is narrower and it can be worn standing up, but I prefer to fold it over to retain the essence of the original look and to make it sit lower.

I also spread out the point where the back and front dresses are sewn into the neckline band - there's now a gap instead of them meeting at the neckband. Doing this doesn't seem to affect the fit or show off too much underarm flesh so I'm calling it a final fix. I am wearing a strapless bra here so the straps don't show - this dress may be from the sixties but I'm not about to go with the free love bra less look!

I didn't have enough fabric to pattern match which is why those dots are so very badly place at the centre back. I also used an invisible zipper instead of a lapped zipper because it's quicker and easier to install an invisible zip even if it's not authentic to the era.

The rest of the dress is pretty simple - it's an a-line shape with some gentle shaping darts front and back to give it a bit of shape.

The fabric helps too with the dress not looking too sack like - this is a nicely draping lightweight denim by Art Gallery fabrics that I bought from Selvage Fabrics last year. The polka dots is a nod to one of the dresses on the pattern envelope and I think it suits this style and era of the pattern perfectly.

Fingers crossed we have a  few more weeks of warmish weather so I can wear this again. The few times I wore it previously I got a lot of compliments on it, including from my friend's husband who is real blokey bloke so that was quite amazing!

polka dot dress in blue denim

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Style Arc Olivia: the jungle dress

The oppressive summer heat and humidity is continuing in these parts, so last week I made a quick and simple summer dress. This is the Style Arc Olivia, which I bought during the 50% Valentine's Day sale but have now only got around to using it.

image via Style Arc

The fabric I've used is a Cotton and Steel cotton called "Paradise Garden" that I won from Brave Fabrics in the Australian Sewing Guild Castaway to Couture competition I entered last year with this refashioned dress. This fabric has lovely colours that didn't fade at all after washing which is always a good start, but it might be a bit too thick for this style - versions made by other people in rayon and polyester seem to drape much better than my version.

I've only made separates by Style Arc before, so I wasn't sure how I would go in their dress sizes. I ended up cutting a size 6 for the bodice and a size 12 for the skirt which most closely matched my measurements. However, like some other bloggers who made this dress, I found the neckline to be too wide and too scooped. I have narrow rounded shoulders, and a flat chest so I should have fixed this before cutting out the pattern, but I did not.

It's not really obvious from this photo, but the neckline tended to fall off my shoulders and just had too much fabric across the front. So to do a quick and easy fix I literally lifted up that shoulders until the neckline was at a good point and the armhole wasn't too tight and then just sewed a new shoulder seam about 3.5cm down from the original, as you can see in the photo below.

This fixed the neckline a bit - it sits in a much better place on me but is still a little low for my liking. I don't need my bony and freckly decolletage out on display so I do prefer a little higher neckline.

The width of the bodice is still an issue though - I can easily pinch out a few centimetres at the centre front and if I make this again I will redraft the bodice to make it less wide at the bustline and with a higher neckline.

I also found this dress really long. My hem is about 10cm deep, even with reducing the overall length by increasing the shoulder seam. The waistline now sits at my natural waist because of the shoulder adjustment, which is fine for this style, although it would help if I wore my belt straight around the waist instead of crooked like I have in these photos!

So overall it's a simple sweet dress that I will make again, but with adjustments to the bodice and neckline. If you have a long torso and are blessed with an ample chest this may probably work for you straight out of the packet. Apart from that issue it's a really quick project and easy for the beginner even with the usual sparse Style Arc instructions.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Burda of the Month: 2/2018 #119 high waisted pencil skirt

pencil skirt in Outback Wife Gertrude Made fabric

I managed to finish February's Burda project in February, so yay for me! I skipped January for the time being because it has been far too hot around here to think about long sleeved dresses, but I will get onto it soon.

The February issue had quite a few nice patterns, but I decided to make the high waisted pencil skirt 2/2018 #119 to see me through the last few weeks of our summer. The jacket that goes with this skirt (in the photo below) is on my to do list for winter, possibly with a matching skirt in a nice tweed or boucle.

image via Burda Style

For this version though I've used a cotton barkcloth in a vibrant emerald green floral. You may recognise this fabric because it's very distinct - this is Elaine Orange from the Outback Wife range by Gertrude Made. I bought this last July from Selvage, and have been umming and aahing ever since trying to figure what to make with it because it was too lovely to use on any old project. This fabric has a rough textured look to it, but it's actually soft and wears really well - I took these photos after a long day in the office and the skirt isn't too rumpled.

The skirt is a pretty simple shape. It doesn't have a waistband, but has a band that wraps from the front dart around the side to the back dart and the raw ends of the band are enclosed in the dart. Whilst this is a nice design line, it made it fiddly to fit because to take in that side seam I had to take that band off to re-sew the side seam. And funnily enough in this print you can hardly see that panel at the waistband anyway!

Burda calls this skirt high waisted but I find it sits just slightly above my natural waist line, which does feel strange since I'm so used to wearing everything low slung. It does have the benefit of keeping your blouse tucked in though! Burda also describes this as narrowly cut, but I think the skirt could use a little more pegging to get the classic pencil skirt shape.

I do like the side and rear views of this skirt, I managed to get quite a neat fit and although I didn't attempt to pattern match due to a lack of fabric you can't notice it on the side and the back pattern somehow matches really well.

Fitting wise I made a size 40 at the waist grading out to a size 42 but found it slightly too big and ended up shaving a bit off. According to Burda's measurement chart these are the sizes for my measurements, but I do like a tighter fit in my clothes so perhaps that explains it. I also reduced the length by about 8cm which is standard actually since I'm normal sized and not a Burda model glamazon.

I happened to have an emerald green standard zipper in my stash at the correct length, so I sewed a hand picked zip instead of using an invisible zip. It turned out barely visible except for a few prick stitches in the yellow part, so I'm glad I went the frugal path and used what I had because it turned out just fine.

handpicked zipper

Overall I give this pattern the big thumbs up. The pattern is well drafted with all the seams lining up how they should and the instructions aren't too bad but since it's a simple skirt you don't really need them anyway. I can see this in a solid version that would make that side band at the waist more obvious, and a bit more pegging of the skirt it will be perfect.

In case you're wondering, the top is Burda 8/2015 #120 that I made back in March 2016, posted here.

And finally thank you to all those who have been commenting on my posts - for some reason my replies aren't showing up but I am definitely reading them. I may need to reinstall Disqus or look into some other commenting platform because I very much appreciate all those that take the time to read and comment.