Tag: dress

Liesl + Co: Cinema Dress

I’m getting ready to speak in public for the first time in .. oh many years – and realised I have nothing currently wearable that is not just a bit too comfortable (scruffy) and full of holes. My style is pretty laid back, necessarily so until I release this extra 50lbs, so I was looking for something feminine, modest, sewable in linen and with possible areas for embellishment – well, I do have an awesome embroidery machine. I wanted something not too obviously tent like but so that I can still sit on the floor, garden or (if needed) prostrations in church.

 

Pattern: Style & Inspiration

Enter the Liesl + Co Cinema Dress. (not an affiliate link!) – you can see how it fits all of the above almost perfectly.

 

The first version here has a contrast yoke and back yoke facing, which I think I will borrow – it gives a secret ‘pop’ and as the instructions are helpful about slightly rolling the facing under so that when top-stitched there won’t be any lining showing, it will be my own secret 🙂cinema2The main official image shows a lovely terracotta linen, view B (the longer length), on a very pretty model.

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I had a quick look a the Very Kerry Berry blog post and she used a beautiful vintage contrast print for the front and back yoke and sleeve cuffs, which finish off the sleeves beautifully – however, she is a very slender sewer and I was beginning to get anxious that no-one over a UK 14 had tried making it.

I found another beautiful print example over at Ivy Arch blog with a great use of print and colour – i love her confident mixing.

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It wouldn’t suit me at the moment but it’s something to think of for the future!

So to summarise: we have an a-line skirted, princess seamed dress with a decent length skirt and cuffed sleeves that are shown at 3/4 length. It buttons up the back and seems to be quite flattering but have only seen examples on slim bloggers so far, which is kind of odd as it goes up to US size 20 – so it’s decent in range and the actual garment sizes are generous, it’s not mean to be fitted. It has pockets (of course) although they are placed on the front panel seam, rather than the sides: I’m kind of conflicted about that, as it could make my belly look bigger (as opposed to side pockets which do the same for the hips – so can I win? no? but pockets are essential).  Plus: It has a matching child’s pattern, the Hide and Seek Girl’s Dress, so I can (with enough material) make a matching one for Miss K! Right now, it’s a good fit for what I’m looking for.

Pattern printing and Changes to the pattern:

  • FBA: Liesl says the pattern is drafted for a B and if you have 2 inches difference between full bust and rib cage, you will need to make an adjustment. I have done it (unsuccessfully) before but this time, I’ve followed the instructions given. It took a while because I was being careful and tired, but it worked really well. Now I know what I’m doing I feel really confident about how to alter similar styles of dress.
  • Blend sizes: for the upper bust measurement I used a US 10, blended out to a 16 from the waist. It wasn’t difficult at all, although I added too much on the front sides of the princess seamed panels that meet the yoke instead of at the sides… I will adjust that in the final dress. With too much it just looks a bit maternity – handy for that post-Friday-night-curry-bloat?
  • Lengthen skirt and sleeves: I HATE 3/4 sleeves that sit just below the elbow. I have long-ish arms yes but I just don’t get why the 3/4 are so popular. I’ve added 2 inches already but will add more, so they sit just above my wrists (hey, no fat wrists yet! FTW!). The skirt needs, for me, about 5 inches. I like my dresses long enough so that I can be pretty undignified and it won’t show my knees. It’s a modesty thing (and a lazy thing). I think longer dresses are more practical and since I don’t wear trousers unless I am desperate, they need to be quite sturdy.
  • Widen sleeves and adjust armholes: a personal choice. I need about an extra inch of width at the bicep right now, to be comfortable. This was easy to do with a cut and slash tutorial plus I looked at this one, adding movement in a fitted sleeve – it isn’t bad, compared to lots of patterns, but it does still lift up when you try to move your arms high. I am not stressing about it right now. I’ve added width on the bicep, slightly lengthened and raised the ‘wings’ of the sleeves – this tutorial shows why/how and my goodness, it’s good to know I’m not the only one who goes into a meltdown when the sleeves are too tight – which of course necessitates adding a little just at the top of the bodice side seams (blended down into the waist)

I decided against doing a forward shoulder adjustment on this – the toile definitely didn’t need one – and the sleeves turned out very well. Mark of a good pattern drafter – the front of the sleeves is a different shape from the back and there is more space behind the top of the shoulder point (where it meets the shoulder bodice seams) than the front. WE ARE NOT EQUAL SHAPES PEOPLE – especially not after years of computer use and painting hunched over a desk.

I spent about two hours doing the pattern adjustments, onto a pattern paper, then traced the whole lot onto swedish tracing paper (so I can adjust again), then made a toile from plain calico (£4 per metre). I know this seems like an *awful* Faff but in the past I have wasted a lot of money on fabric and time on patterns that just look *shocking* – I have about four dresses hidden away right now that need to be adjusted before they are wearable. I am a perfectionist, true, but why shouldn’t we be when we are making the clothes for ourselves?

No photos as I managed to fit in assembling it while DD and I played during a quiet home day of school holidays – she made glitter masks (yay) and sequin signs (double yay) and I ignored the mess to stitch it together.

Instructions

I’d say these are very clearly written by an experienced sewer who understands the ‘whuck’ moments we all have when dealing with things like bodice and back yoke facings, welts for in-seam pockets and cuffs on set-in sleeves. All of these are clearly illustrated by line drawings – no photographs – and rather than print them out, I used my trusty chromebook next to the sewing machine. NB: Pattern printing requires many, many A4 sheets. I chose to use my local copy shop which luckily had an extra-wide plotter printer, and I think the two sheets were about £5 each? Moral of the story: BUY THE PAPER PATTERN it will be easier and cheaper in the long run, if you are like me and happy to trace off the pieces. If you don’t mind taping 50 sheets of paper together to trace, then get on with your bad self and tape away..

Assembly

The assembly is straightforward: I liked the almost flat construction, with set-in sleeves. It is intuitive and easy to follow, logically steering you through the pattern.  Take your time and don’t try to rush too much – this is a dress that needs your attention, but not because it’s hard to follow: it expects a certain level of experience I think, for techniques that make it look handmade, not homemade.

Initial fit

I didn’t fit pockets into the toile because, you know, time. I DID choose to fit two sleeves – I know some people will think “it’s a toile, why fit two sleeves?” Answer: because there will be two sleeves on the finished garment and it will hang/fit/drag differently, if there are equal forces on each side of the bodice. Plus I hate the binding sleeve thing (see above). I also omitted the yoke facing and back facing, to save time and make adjustments easier.

I was amazed: it actually fitted me through the shoulders. I have relatively narrow shoulders and a neat upper chest, compared to everything else, and this dress is the first to have fitted me properly ever. Yes, you read that, ever. The width was absolutely spot on for me, so happy happy day. The adjusted sleeves fitted in nicely, no obvious gathers at the easing. Over the FBA princess seams, I preferred the seam on the side where I didn’t snip into the seam allowance – it seemed to hold it better, but bear in mind there was no facing on this toile so that might change things. The length of the sleeves even with an additional 4cm was irritating – personal peeve – so I will add more. The length of the skirt was fine, with my extra 5″ (10cm) and the side seams on the bodice from armscye to waist were hanging straight.

The only changes I plan on making are at the front yoke beneath the bust – I will blend out the additional fabric I put in by about 1/2 inch, maximum, so it swings in under the curve a little instead of hanging so straight down. At the side seams, there was a ton of extra fabric – I suspect that might be because of the calico I used being stiffer than linen but all the same, I think about 1/2 maximum either side from waist to hem should fix that for my first go.

Next Stage

I will be cutting this out of a fabric from my hoard first, I’ll see if I can find something bland or neutral, or perhaps I will just go mad and use some linen.. I want to decorate the yoke with embroidery from the Urban Threads Las Flores Collection

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Or perhaps their Folklorico, although the designs are a bit more limited and rectangular – but they do have some pretty birds that I already used to customise my denim jacket.

In fact this will look really pretty over a very fine linen or lawn petticoat or bloomers, like the ones from Sew Tina Givens, which could make it look a lot more relaxed when I’m not pretending to be a grown up.

 

 

 

Jocole Endless Dress

I made my last *cough* digital pattern purchase this year and went for the Jocole Endless Dress. It’s possible, with a bit of tweaking, to make hundreds of dresses that are all different. Jodie worked it out. She clearly likes maths.

I am planning three or four dresses -at least- from this pattern but when I had a hankering to make a quick frock with a cream alençon overlay, guess what I grabbed? Yup.

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What I hope you can see is how closely the 6 bodice (empire length) matches the pattern I had to seriously refit from her last emergency gotta-have-it-now dress? Yup, no alterations & it sewed up super.

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I cheated: I used the scalloped edge of the lace for the skirt & arm hems. I used Velcro at the back closure & didn’t make a placket in the skirt, which I just cut in two parts, rather than two separate backs. I think I’d cut the sleeves with a bit more room at the sleeve head but otherwise, perfect.

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You can see the short sleeves have been lengthened a bit – it is January – but I used the top to quickly cut an A-line under dress because I want the chance to swap it for a brighter colour – pink is first up.

I’ve got a doll dress cut & ready to sew – they’re included with the pattern! – plus enough lace for a 6-12 month size too. When I get a chance, I will get decent photos of all 3 – and recover that armchair! Seriously, I dislike the chair & rug SO much…

Vintage pattern sites: blurry eyes

A really, really super brief post: I’ve been looking high and low for what I think of as a ‘bog standard’ day dress pattern. I’m suspecting that something later 40s or 50s would work for me, as I like longer and fuller skirts. Let’s say “alice, rabbit hole, down” and leave it at that? Anyway, a morning when I should have been working has left me with a big old pile of links that I want to share and at a future point add into a very helpful ‘widget box’ for vintage pattern sources. In the meantime, for your enjoyment and perusal.

And now I have to run and paint, quickly. Another house bound afternoon with grumpy five year old darling beckons.

A Proper Party Dress. Part 4 – and dolly came too.

On the morning of her 5th birthday, Wee Bear woke to sun & clouds, as usual for June in Scotland. The party dress looked amazing – for the ten minutes it stayed on!

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Alas, some little girls arrived & announced they weren’t wearing party dresses – after her big entrance. Peer pressure starts early, so the party dress came off & another, normal frock went on. I tried not to want to throttle anyone too much… even though my eyes were still bleary from the late nights of sewing. I’m happy it fits her so well.

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Apart from a frantic time tracking down a bouncy castle (ordering the first one for July wasn’t a great move!) it all went as well as I had expected. Too many girls in a state of high emotion and after the same fancy dress and balloon caused a bit of friction. Who knew that being five was so stressful?

The big presents came on her actual birthday, including her doll: Lily Sugar, as she was immediately renamed.

I had spent a while the night before making a little party frock for her doll – I used a plain lined bodice pattern from the All Dolled Up book, then gathered scraps of tulle and net all together – using them as one layer was much faster and made the skirt a lot neater at the waist. Finally, I attached the soft Velcro strips – a normal width strip cut in half. It is only made from the soft loops but seems to stick together nicely and doesn’t scratch.

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I’ve never seen her so happy to get a present: she hugged her close, decided she had a new little sister but – best of all – immediately wanted to wear their matching clothes. I can see many happy hours of play in our future (and sewing in mine!).

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A Proper Party Dress. Part 3: assembling!

We are only one day away from Wee Bear’s big party: we are all in a haze of sleep-deprivation and excitement but at least I won’t be up sewing her dress at 1am (as usual: no, this time I am sewing dresses to match her Tulipe doll!).

Once we had adjusted the pattern of the Chloe Dress it was a dream to assemble the bodice. The simple round necked, sleeveless, lined bodice (I used a super soft acetate type fabric) is self finishing, so the only exposed seam was at the waist:

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I was sewing too fast to take many photographs and the instructions are super clearly illustrated. I have to comment again on how much I enjoy working from their patterns! However, cutting out the yards of net and tulle would have been easier if I had used a roller cutter and mat, as I do for my quilt projects.

20130630-121311.jpg I somehow vastly over ordered, so have enough left for at least one more dress in the same colour – if I changed the under net & lining colour, it could be an adorable blush pink, or maybe a winter ice blue?

However, as it is so fine, the tulle squishes when sewing: my Janome 6500 goes through just about anything (although it hates buttonholes) and it wasn’t long before I had assembled the layers. I chose to gather them separately and it added a bit of bulk (and time) – the matching doll dress was gathered all together and is much neater around the waist.

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It’s a lot of fabric. I think I would find a different way to gather it – I struggled slightly to keep the gathers from stretching out again. When it has been gathered incredibly small, it is simply sewn onto the bodice. I would imagine it is possible to leave the lining a little unattached at the bottom 1cm of the bodice and it could be folded up & sewn to enclose the skirt seam: it is of course quite bulky.

I got around it this time by adding a skirt lining with a rolled hem. I made a skirt>dress>lining sandwich

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So that when the lining was folded down, it covered the exposed skirt edges:

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I attempted to neaten it up & stitched below the seam but It was immediately unpicked. Don’t try at home!

By this time, it was past midnight – so apologies for the shocking pictures! I fluffed the sash assembly but it worked out in the end: a few hand stitches to hold it in place and I was done! I really wish I had bought proper nylon chiffon & tulle from the USA but I am working on my favourite online fabric supplier Plush Addict to import it on rolls for awesome pettiskirts!

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20130630-122814.jpg the sash ties in a large bow: a silk bodice & tie would look beautiful for a bridesmaid or flowergirl.

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The finished dress front. Photos of it being worn to follow!

A proper party dress. Part 1: the ‘Chloe’ dress by Violette Fields Threads

Quite unable to believe how beautiful my daughter is (really) I decided that we needed a party dress to match. The ‘Chloe’ by Violette Fields was a natural. Their photography is jaw-droppingly beautiful: haunting, evocative, adorable, classic, I can’t find enough words to describe how much I admire their work. Sometimes I just look at the site for some eye-happy-time. (This image courtesy of the incredibly kind team at Violette Fields Threads).

Chloe PDF pattern

The Chloe is simple in concept: yards of tulle, net and nylon chiffon (more on that in a minute) are gathered lovingly onto a straight forward lined bodice with buttons, topped off with a sash to tie in a large bow at the back. The execution takes a bit more patience and care if it is to look as stunning as the images on their site. I mean come on: look at this one – you just want to sew, right?

Fiona bustled dress & top

First choosing the fabric. Wee Bear is remarkably literal at the moment. Things are, largely, black and white. So when she saw the large rose print on the tea-length dress model on the pattern front, that was what we had to have. The *incredibly* helpful ladies at Violette Fields replied to my desperate email trying to source the original: it was a Heather Bailey print, from her Garden District collection of a few years ago. Of course, it is no longer available. However, I found ‘Hello Roses’ which is similar enough for a happy nearly-five year old and her mother.

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The cream looked best and so then we tried tracking down the tulle and net. I wanted something fresh and pretty, so a pale green rather than pink (which can often make the Wee Bear look washed out) was on my search list. Most net greens are, frankly, hideous. I was delighted to find Harrington Fabric and Lace down in Nottingham (where British lace was produced in great quantities last century and a rare surviving remnant of our home cloth production). Their website needs a redesign but again, helpful and speedy service – although the pale green tulle was out of stock. We compromised on green net and ivory tulle, exactly like the original on the cover.