Thursday, 27 August 2015

New Look 6723

How are you all today? I'm feeling nice and rested still after spending last week on holiday up in Northumberland with my family. Obviously I had to make a couple of new things to take with me, which means that I can treat you to some different photo backdrops for my next couple of posts, starting with this version of New Look 6723...

It's a pretty pattern with a princess seamed bodice, full skirt and a sweetheart or higher neckline, and sleeveless, short sleeve or three-quarter sleeved options. Oh, and a lined bodice - which is definitely my favourite finish.

I bought the pattern partly because I decided that I'd like a couple of dresses with slightly lower necklines. As is probably evident by now, I love my Emery dresses but their one downside is that I can't wear my necklaces (nothing posh, just pretty!) with them. So I was definitely going to try the sweetheart version of New Look 6723 first, and it's summer so sleeveless seemed like a good option.

The fabric is G├╝termann Long Island Rose. I got it from Weaver Dee when they had it half price, but they don't seem to have it in stock anymore.

It surprised me a little when it arrived - I was expecting the print to be smaller scale and the background to be navy, whereas it's definitely a grey-blue and in some lights looks much more grey than blue. It's a lovely quality cotton though, and the more I looked at it the more I thought that it was probably actually nicer than what I thought I was buying. Surprises are good when they're nice surprises!

I made a couple of changes to the pattern. Firstly, the sweetheart bodice has a centre front seam, which I assume is to make it easier to get a nice point on the sweetheart shape. I didn't really want a seam there breaking up the fairly large-scale print though, so I chose to cut the bodice on the fold instead. I reinforced the stitching at the centre point, and cut as far down into the seam allowance towards the point as I dared, and that's produced a perfectly good shape as far as I'm concerned.

I also added pockets as I'm fairly prone to hay fever-type sneezing fits so it's always good to have somewhere to put a tissue! I just stole the pattern pieces from the Emery dress - nice and simple. I know some people don't understand the fascination with pockets, but I definitely find that I miss them when they're not there.

The pattern uses a lapped zip, but I had an invisible zip ready to use so I went with that option instead. That meant that I had to do a couple of the other steps slightly differently, but that mainly affects the finish on the lining not the actual dress itself.

When it came to picking a size, I tried out my theory I mentioned in my post about my last dress of sizing down in the shoulders to avoid underarm gaping. I made a size 14 at the shoulders, grading out to a size 16 from the bust downwards and it worked a treat - no underarm gaping in sight!

Other than that, I just needed to make my standard adjustment of adding length to the bodice (although only 1.5 cm, so less than usual).

I like this dress a lot more than I was expecting to when the fabric arrived. It's really pretty, but I think the grey in the background dilutes the sweetness of it a bit so stops it from being too girly and twee. I love the shape as well - so much so that I'm thinking of cutting into some prized Liberty lawn for another 6723. What do you think, should I do it?!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Sew Over It cowl neck top & simple skirt refashion

Today's post brings you the excitement of two finished projects for the price of one - a Sew Over It cowl neck top and a simple refashioned skirt, which go quite nicely together even if I do say so myself.

This outfit has been brewing in my head since I found this skirt in a local charity shop a couple of months ago...

I loved the butterfly print and the fabric is beautifully silky soft (it's 100% cupro), but it was too small for me. The skirt had generous pleats though, and was pretty long, so I knew there was enough fabric there to make it work for me and that it was worth the £5 price tag.

It came home with me, where I hung it on one of the hooks on my living room wall so I could ponder what exactly to do with it. Unfortunately it looked quite pretty and colourful hung on the wall so I started subconsciously treating it as some odd form of art instead of a project that needed attention. Really, that was a waste though so I decided to make a top to wear with it, that I wasn't allowed to wear until I could wear it with the skirt. I like these strange little self-imposed challenges!

So this is the top that motivated me to attack the skirt...

I actually bought the fabric (it's a viscose jersey from Guthrie & Ghani) with the intention of making an Agnes top, but when it arrived it was so lovely and drapey that I thought it might be better suited to the Sew Over It cowl neck top instead - I'd bought the pattern on offer when it was released but hadn't got round to making it, so this seemed like a good opportunity to do that.

It was a nice simple project, and sewed up pretty quickly. I did ignore the instructions a bit though - they have you sew the shoulder and side seams of the top and then set in the sleeves, but I sewed the sleeves in flat and then sewed the sleeve and side seams in one, which just seemed easier to me.

If you're making this top, it's worth bearing in mind that it's a more loose fitting style than lots of knit tops. I made a size 12, which matches my measurements if I'm trying to flatter myself slightly rather than being completely honest, and there's still plenty of ease. I'm happy with the looser fit, but I think I could have gone down a size and still ended up with a top that fit me fine.

If I'm being picky, the PDF could be a bit better - it would be good if there were instructions about which pages you don't need to print if you're only making the top instead of the dress, and there are 6 blank pages that you don't need to print off at all. I can see why they're included in the PDF to make it easier to draft, but again there could be instructions about not printing them. Those are minor niggles though and don't affect the actual pattern at all.

They didn't really cloud my experience of making the top either, and I can definitely see myself making other versions at some point.

So, I had the top and now I needed to refashion the skirt!

I unpicked the waistband, and with all the pleats released there was masses of fabric to work with (I ended up chopping about 10 inches off the front and back at one side). I then washed the skirt fabric, left it quite wet and hung it up to dry by one of the side seams to encourage the pleats to fall out. Magically they did, and the fabric didn't really even need ironing before I got to work.

I decided to keep it simple and make a gathered, elastic waist skirt, and used this tutorial from Handmade Jane. As a bonus, I've also got side seam pockets in mine, mainly because the original skirt had pockets so I thought I might as well use them! The only other thing I needed to do was shorten the skirt - it was that horribly frumpy length favoured by older ladies, and I think the hem had been altered before because it was a bit uneven - so I took about 6 inches off, rehemmed it and that was it!

I'm glad I finally got round to cutting the skirt up and doing something with it - it's definitely better as something to wear than just something hanging on the wall to look at! It may have only been a simple project, but I really enjoyed hacking apart the skirt and making something new. It's inspired me to think of various possible projects for taking part in The Refashioners - is anyone else going to play along?

Friday, 7 August 2015

New Look 6184

When New Look 6184 was the free pattern with Sew magazine a few months ago, I instantly earmarked it for my summer sewing plans. I mean, with a fitted bodice with a pretty pleated neckline, and a flared skirt (or pencil skirt if that's more your style), what's not to like?

It turns out that it was also nice and easy to sew, and came together quickly, so that makes it even more of a winner in my book!

The bodice is unlined and finished with a neck facing and bias tape around the armholes, and while I do prefer the finish of lined bodices in general, there's no denying that a facing is quicker and gives you a light and breezy dress for the summer.

I did initially have a bit of the problem with the facing not lying flat and trying to peep out along the front neckline - I was assured you didn't notice it at all when I had the dress on, but I could definitely see it and it was bothering me so I needed to sort it out! I tried catch stitching the bottom of the facing to the bodice, but that spoiled the effect of the pleats. I ripped that out and instead catch stitched down the facing in diagonal lines from the corners of the neckline, and that seems to have done the trick.

For this version of the bodice (there's also a higher necked version), the only shaping is provided by the pleats at the neckline, so I was slightly concerned about how I'd make any alterations if it didn't fit properly but thankfully for me it fits well pretty much straight out of the box. I made a size 16, and just needed to add an inch to the bodice length (standard for me) and an inch to the skirt (also not unusual for me!).

I also ended up taking an extra half a centimetre out of the side seams at the underarms during construction - I'm noticing that I often need to do that with sleeveless tops/dresses so maybe I should think about going down a size in the shoulders or something?

There's a bit more ease in the front of the bodice than I'm used to in patterns like the Emery, for example, but I think that's going to be inevitable when the pleating at the neckline is the only shaping. I like the fit anyway, so it's all good!

Can we take a moment to appreciate this invisible zip please?! I feel like I've finally cracked a way to insert them nicely that seems to work reliably for me. I've probably jinxed it now though and will have problems next time I try to use one!

The fabric for this dress was another bargain from The Village Haberdashery sale section, at a time when they had an extra discount running for the sale section, so I think it was only something like £4 a metre. Really it would have been silly not to have it at that price, right?! I actually already have another dress in a different colourway of the same print, but they look quite different, so that's OK I think.

I think that's about all I've got to say about this one! As you've probably guessed, I'm pretty happy with it, even more so because at about the same time as I finished it I found these pretty red shoes that go really nicely with it! What have you been sewing recently?