Friday, 22 November 2013

Refashion: Skater Dress

This can't really be called a refashion. The dress was merely toyed with!

I was given this dress by a girl at work. Somewhat bizarrely I thought. Apparently it didn't fit her and she thought it might fit me, which was lovely of her, but it still had the tags on, so presumably she could have returned it!? Anyway I am not one to turn down free clothes, especially pretty ones, and after offering payment and all sort of other compensation to her, I graciously accepted it FOC.

It's a simple skater style dress from, in polyester. Not my favourite fabric, but I repeat: free dress. It's labelled as a size 12, but seeing as it fits me fine, and I'm normally a 8 or a 10, I think it was labelled wrongly - proven by the fact that the tag called it a "Peter Pan Collar Skater Dress". I am no expert but I don't see any collar, peter pan or otherwise. You get what you pay for! 

As I said the dress pretty much fits well, but the sleeves which were 3/4 length, were ridiculously tight. So tight in fact that I could only just get my arm in there, and once it I couldn't raise it to do up the zip at the back. I managed to get P to zip me into it to check the rest of it was OK. It was. So I cut 9cm off the sleeves, took up a narrow hem and err... that was it. Told you it wasn't much of a refashion. But the result is a dress I can now wear. To be honest, the sleeves are still very tight, and I suspect they won't tolerate a lot of movement - so not one to wear while doing yoga, gardening or cleaning the house - but it should be able to cope with a day at the desk. I could have shortened the sleeves further, but liked the elbow length for winter, even though it will almost pretty much always be covered by a cardigan. I can always shorten or even remove the sleeves in future.

As my tummy is already expanding, this dress won't fit for long, but it will be a nice addition to my autumn/winter wardrobe for however long it does fit!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Completed: Another Scout!

Firstly, thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my last post! So sweet! :)

And now on to another make. This has been a long time coming. I started it over a month ago, and it should have been a very easy, quick and straightforward make. Yes, it was relatively easy and straightforward, but early stage pregnancy exhaustion, plus my forcing myself to do my "best sewing" meant it was anything but quick. Hey ho, that's how life is at the moment.

This blouse was ripped off from inspired by this blouse I have had Pinned for a while, by Chinti and Parker (it's no longer available) which I thought was really pretty and looked very much like Grainline Studio's Scout Woven Tee, with a couple of variations.

Source: Chinti and Parker
Actually, I have only just realised that I forgot about the pocket!!! Doesn't matter. The bit I was most interested in was the ruffle at the back. I am not a huge fan of ruffles and flounces on myself. I find they just get in the way of life, but I do like a bit of added interest, particularly on the back of a garment. And this is not too ruffley.

Back in the summer, I bought a beautiful silky cotton voile in this delicious berry colour from The Village Haberdashery. I managed to snaffle the last 2 and a bit metres, so it's no longer available. At the time I really swithered* between the berry and this pumpkin colour which is still available, but in the end I felt the berry would suit me better. How gorgeous is the pumpkin though? I may still need to purchase some of that! I wasn't too bothered about the pink or the white of the original inspriration garment. I don't really wear either of those colours, particularly not white. And it's just as well, seeing as this garment never made it to fruition until November!

The make, as I said, was really straightforward. I decided to omit the back seam on the original because I didn't need it, so it was just the ruffle. On the inspiration picture, it looks like the ruffle starts at the model's natural waist, so using my back neck to waist measurement, I measured the pattern piece, remembering to factor in seam allowance at the neck and to add seam allowance at the waist. I then cut the pattern piece straight across at this point. For me, this ended up coincidentally being right on the shorten/lengthen line!

I cut the top back bodice piece, and the rest of the pattern pieces, as normal. For the ruffle, I used the bottom back bodice piece as a guide for shape, but I widened it (horizontally across the width of my back). Initially I increased the width by 1.5 times, as I wasn't sure how much volume I wanted it to have. I gathered the piece and pinned it to the top back bodice piece, but there was too much volume for my liking, and compared to the Chinti and Parker version, so I reduced it until it looked about right for me. I didn't measure it, or take pictures of this stage, sorry, as I was at my sewing class and I just didn't think. I tried to keep the curved shape of the bottom of this pattern piece on the extended piece, and of course I added seam allowance at the top.

The side seams, underarm seams and the ruffle seam (attaching it to the back bodice piece) are all French seamed. Before I attached the sleeves, I tried it on and decided it was too volumey. The fabric is lovely and silky, but it's not overly drapey, so it stood away from me and looked really boxy. So in the end I took it in at the sides. This meant unpicking and re-doing those lovely French seams, which was annoying, but worth it. I took the sides in 3cm (about 1.25 inches) at the bottom, tapering this out to nothing at the bottom of the armhole. It hasn't taken loads off, but it hangs a bit more nicely now.

Was quite obviously taking these photos myself, hence lack of head!
In the end, looking at the finished garment, the ruffle is about 1.5 inches wider than the pattern piece. Adding 1.25 inches back onto that (that I removed for fit) means my ruffle was probably 2.75 inches (or about 7cm) wider than the pattern piece originally (once I had adjusted it to my preference). Hope that makes sense?

The sleeve seams were finished using my machine's overlock stitch. All fairly standard for me.

When I came to finish the neckline, I realised I had either failed to read, or failed to understand the instructions for my first Scout. For that one I enclosed the neckline in the bias binding, but this time I realised the bias binding was to be used as a facing. Both work, and actually I think I might prefer the exposed bias binding as a finish, given you end up with a topstitch around the neck anyway.

I am really happy with this blouse, it's exactly what I was hoping to make (minus the forgotten pocket). The voile is a little sheer but I can wear a pale bra underneath without it being seen. Plus for autumn/winter I have a couple of cardigans that go with it. I'm preferring a cropped cardi with it though, just so you can see the ruffle a bit more! It's great with black trousers for work, or with jeans and boots at the weekend, so it really is very versatile. Jenny  from Bobbins and Whimsy would be proud!

Because this is still a roomy style, I think it will do me for a good few months of pregnancy, with a bump band or cami underneath once it starts to become a bit too short. And it's worth bearing in mind that another version of the Scout, without the fit adjustment and with added length could be a good maternity option for later too.

* Spell check doesn't like "swithered", so I'm wondering if this is perhaps just a British, or possibly even Scottish, word. If so, to "swither" means to be indecisive. Then again, it might be a normal word that everyone uses. After all, spell check doesn't like the word "blog"...

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

And then there were four

I know it’s been a bit quiet on the blog recently. Life sometimes just gets in the way of both blogging and sewing, which can be annoying, or can be good, depending on the reason.

Luckily around here, the reasons have mostly been good, but the biggest and most exciting reason of all  is… I am pregnant! Just 13 weeks at the moment, so I am due in May (and so, a week behind Megan Nielsen – imagine my frustration when she announced her pregnancy and I couldn’t comment accordingly! Wait! Off to do that now…). Obviously having a baby is (nearly) always exciting, but for us to get to this stage brings extreme excitement and huge relief. Since Small Boy, I’ve had some difficulty becoming and then staying pregnant, so it’s super exciting to have made it this far! To see the little blob bouncing around and waving its limbs around was so lovely, and until that moment, I don’t think either of us realised how anxious we had been.

But here we are! Small Boy is excited and is telling everyone who will listen, although he wants to know regularly “has the baby come out your tummy yet”? 6 months is a long time for a 3 year old. He spend the past fortnight asking if it was Halloween yet, so the upcoming months are going to crawl for him.

So, what of my sewing plans? Some plans are obviously parked for a while. My gingham Archer will need to wait until I am back to a normal size, as I don’t want to waste the fabric on something that then won’t fit in future – that fabric is too precious to me. Similarly I will need to leave my chiffon Zinnia. When I wrote that post I knew I was pregnant, however I thought it would still be viable to make and wear at Christmas. Small Boy was due in June, so I have been equating this pregnancy to his, but this time I am nearly exactly a month ahead, meaning at Christmas I will be 20 weeks! Plus I already have developed a small tummy, which I am sincerely hoping is due to child and not cake, so the likelihood of me fitting a skirt at Christmas is minimal. Having said that, have you seen Shivani’s gathered maternity skirt? Maybe a variation on that could work? Maybe?

I’m not sure what my sewing plans will be over the coming months. I would like to do some maternity sewing. Having been pregnant before I know what worked for me and what didn’t, what I felt comfortable wearing and what made me feel silly or huge. A lot of what worked last time, though, was knits and I haven’t really done a lot of sewing with knits so far, so that’s a bit scary for me. I could also take the opportunity to sew some other stuff: a shirt for P, something for Small Boy, a quilt, or to take up another hobby like knitting.

Frustratingly, this seems to be new pattern release season! So many pretty new things out there. I am going to have to live vicariously through you all for the time being!

Lots to think about. For the moment though I am too exhausted to do much in the evenings. I haven’t completed my Scout and my coat remains a UFO, but they are my immediate goals. Luckily both are loose and so should remain fairly roomy for a while. Once my energy returns, I am looking forward to picking them back up. I am keen to get them finished, but at this stage know there is little point pushing myself.

So, there you go. Some exciting news from me! 
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