Sewing for special occasions – Bridgetown Backless Dress

This month I have loads of weddings to attend so my April project Sew My Style needed to be suitable for special occasions, and ideally something that I can wear afterwards too.

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This Sew House Seven pattern is a pretty good match for my sewing plan, and also happens to be the sew my style project for April- perfect timing!  It is the Bridgetown Backless Dress.  I like that from the front it looks quite modest, and all the excitement is in the back.  This is only the second Sew House Seven pattern that I have used- the first being my Toaster Sweater from January, but I found the instructions and pattern drafting spot on.

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The fabric is a viscose challis called freesia from Fabric Godmother. I spotted this fabric on Instagram and loved it right away. I have never used challis before, but I love the weight and drape.  I wasn’t sure if it was ok to wear black to a wedding, but I think the spring flowers on this make sure that it doesn’t look too sombre.

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It is the shiftiest thing that I have sewed so far!  I cut most pieces on a single layer which helped, and had a new blade for my rotary cutter.  The skirt pieces were cut on the fold and have ended up slightly off grain, but not so much you would notice!  I sewed up a size 4 in this pattern.  There is quite a bit of ease designed into the pattern to help it drape properly at the back.  The waist is brought in with elastic so it can fit perfectly.

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For the sewing, I used a new size 60 needle to help it pierce the fabric, but otherwise it behaved fairly well.  This fabric does catch and cause little runs, so I had to watch my pins carefully!  Like Emily from Self Assembly Required, I found the facing pieces to be too long, but it was very easy to trim them down to size.  I finished all the seams that needed it with a three thread overlock to keep things neat and tidy.

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The sizing has turned out well- the back drapes beautifully but without being too low cut. (I can still wear my usual bra). I do love being all dressed up for spring weddings!  This one was held in these fantastic gardens and by a lake, so it was too difficult to decide which pictures to include and which to leave out… I just couldn’t resist including a whole heap!

Virginia Leggings

Here is the March installment of Project Sew My Style; some Virginia Leggings by Megan Nielson.  I wasn’t quite sure which size to cut as I have sometimes found in the past that their patterns come up a little small, but I cut a size S  in the petite length, and hoped that my fabric would be stretchy enough to overcome any slight fitting issues!

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The fabric that I used was a remnant from Fabric Godmother, which is now out of stock, but they do appear to have something similar here.  It is a crazy orange snakeskin textured spandex!  It is printed on a white background, and is a tiny bit thinner than I had hoped, but my leggings are going to be the most exciting running-ware in town!

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Having just two pattern pieces, these sewed up extremely quickly, and the instructions were simple to follow.  I should have adjusted my overlocker tension a little or used a more similar thread colour, because you can see the white thread on the seams that are slightly under tension.  I did succeed in getting my hems to match though, using the most exciting two coloured twin-needling I think I have ever done!

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The pattern suggests using 1″ elastic, but I only had 1.5″ and it just fit the channel.  This has resulted in a lovely firm waistband which feels very secure.  If I made these for running again I would widen the waistband some more to match the styling on some of my ready to wear pairs, but for everyday leggings the fit is probably perfect as it is.

As they are not designed as running leggings, I have found them to be a little restrictive around my lower legs when running, but nothing too troubling.  It does try to pull them down a little though! I think perhaps sizing up a little might have solved this problem too.

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Overall, I am really pleased with these! They are so different to the colours and patterns that I usually wear, but I do enjoy a more vibrant print in my workout clothes- if they are exciting to look at I am more likely to put them on!

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Sadly, my fears about the fabric were well founded, while it was stretchy enough, at the seams it is so thin that it has started to tear.  I don’t think that these will last very long, but they have at least shown me that it is possible to make my own, and I am going to be looking for some more suitable fabric sometime soon.  If anyone has any recommendations, please let me know.

Saunio Cardigan, spring jacket

The Saunio Cardigan from Named Clothing  is pattern two from project sew my style, and is one of the patterns that I was less sure about, so didn’t want to invest too much time or money into something I wasn’t sure I would wear. It has turned out ok though, and while it isn’t quite my usual style I an see myself wearing this during spring as a lightweight jacket.

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The size range of each size is quite big. I made up the smallest size and found it a bit bulky so I pinched out 1.5 inches at each side seam and re-sewed them.  I do tend to prefer close fitting to oversized clothing though. An alternative would be to add a belt and belt loops like Jess at Little Miss Lorraine.

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The fabric that I used was from eBay. It does feel pretty synthetic and polyester, but it seemed like a good option for something I wasn’t sure how much I would wear. It is a slightly quilted jersey and it is both warm and stretchy.

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The sewing of this pattern was generally pretty simple. Like the Toaster Sweater it is very quick to put together.  The only point I got a little confused was attaching the facing to the jacket, but the illustrations were good and it is a very clever, neat finish.

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I did have a couple of problems with my fabric. Because it was quilted it was made up of several layers and they did shift and stretch a little when topstitching.  When added to not grading my seams enough at the bottom of the facing I have ended up with quite a bit of bulk here.

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I did a second row of topstitching to try to flatten it down a little which has partially worked, but I think I should have just used my walking foot to avoid the problem completely! I have made the executive decision to have the jacket cross over the wrong way too conceal the bulk!

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The instructions for the Saunio Cardigan don’t include fastenings. My quilted fabric is a little bulky to drape properly at the front, and I like to be able to do up my cardigans, so I have added a couple of snaps and a hook and eye to give me some options for wearing it closed.

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All in all, it is not a pattern that I would have chosen for myself, but I did enjoy using a pattern from a new designer. The instructions from Named Clothing were really good and well thought through, and I think I will enjoy wearing this as the weather begins to warm up instead of a proper coat.

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Toasty Toaster Sweater

Well here it is- my first contribution to the Sew My Style Project- the toaster sweater no.1.  Now I know that officially I was supposed to make version 2 (and I’m sure I will at some point), but work and college have been a little crazy this month, and I wanted yo be able to whip this up on the overlocker as fast as possible!

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Fabric-wise, both of these come from Fabric Godmother.  The patterned sleeve fabric was a remnant that I thought should be big enough for some colour-blocking.  They do have cut lengths back in stock now too.  The body, neck band and cuffs are this Ponte also from Fabric Godmother.

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In terms of the pattern, I wanted to keep things a simple as possible.  I wasn’t really sure about the high neck band and also didn’t plan my cutting out all that well so it ended up a little shorter.  I really like it though!  When up, the neck is super cosy, and I can also roll it down and wear it with a shirt.

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The fabrics were both lovely to work with.  The trickiest part was working out how to best use my 40cm remnant of the patterned jersey.  To make the most use of it I had to have the stretch running the wrong way on the sleeve, but it doesn’t seem to have affected the pattern much.  The sleeves are loose enough to be comfy and the stretch is the right way around on the cuffs anyway!

This was such a quick make.  Maybe 2 hours including cutting out.  I would love to make an even snugglier version with something a bit thicker.  I think next time I will lengthen the body about 2 inches too.  It’s not too short, just a little shorter than I usually would choose and I keep trying to pull it down.  Had lots of compliments when I wore it out today though.  I might also try switching the high neck for a neck band and having it more like a crew neck sweater.

New Year Sewing Plans

New Year is a great time or making plans.  This year I have a couple of sewing related resolutions to share!

1. Project Sew My Style

Project Sew My Style - What is it?

This is a first for me, signing up to a sewing community collective project, but I am really looking forward to it.  The concept is simple- 12 sewing patterns have been selected, one or each month.  Everyone sews them up and shares their makes via Instagram.  Find out more here.

Not all of the projects are things I would usually be drawn to, but I’m going to give them a try.  I am looking forward to this month’s make the Sew House 7 Toaster Sweater.  Both versions look so cozy.  And I love Megan Nielson Patterns so the Virginia Leggings and Darling Ranges Dress both look like fun.

The Toaster Sweaters (PDF or Paper)

To see the rest of the pattern selections and the timeline head over to bluebird fabrics here.

2. Blogging weekly/fortnightly

Still not sure how this will work out with college and work going on in the background, but I do have a couple of things made and photographed ready to blog.  Still learning my way around WordPress though!  I do have the best of intentions and I am excited about sharing my makes with the world.  Here is a sneak peek of the next blog post to come along…

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2017 is looking like a good year already!