Wax print Wednesday – an Upton wedding guest dress

Are you a commitment phobe? I am. I’m not talking about relationships – but I’m a commitment phobe with books (over 300 pages? That’s a big commitment… think about how long it will take me to read that… the whole time I’m reading it I won’t be able to read anything else, hmm…) and  I’m a commitment phobe with sewing projects that have a lot of detail (especially if they also take up a lot of fabric). I loved the look of the Cashmerette Upton dress and bought the pattern immediately – but I couldn’t quite settle to making it. The size chart looked such a faff… maybe it’s easier just to make a nice gathered skirt, I inevitably thought.

That is, until my lovely friends Jen and Tom invited me to their wedding and I needed to make a dress for it. What better motivation for putting some real time into a make than two of your close friends getting married? So I decided it was time for an Upton dress. I was going to toile it. I was going to line the bodice properly. I was definitely going to do the hem by hand, even though the hem looked to be very long indeed….

And then I promptly fell at the first hurdle. Which size did I need??? If you’ve seen the back of a Cashmerette pattern envelope, hopefully you might sympathise with me – there are a LOT of numbers. Don’t get me wrong, I am HERE for dresses with bigger cup sizes; I think the worst thing about sewing for me is having to faff about with an FBA before I can even cut any fabric (especially as I don’t believe that the majority of women wear a B cup bra anymore, which is what patterns and ready to wear clothes are drafted for – we have bigger boobs now we’re not keeping thin by spending 57 hours a week on housework and taking a load of tranquilisers for our creeping anxiety…).

I needn’t have feared – look how incredibly helpful this e-mail from Carrie at Cashmerette is:

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And it didn’t stop there. I asked questions about darts. I sent photos of my muslin. Carrie was so patient and helpful – I don’t think I’ve ever been so impressed with customer service as I was with Cashmerette. It made the fitting part of my make sooo much easier and less stressful. I couldn’t have been happier!

So there we go. I made a toile. I lined the bodice. I pattern matched. And I hand stitched. And I have to say, it has turned out to be one of my proudest makes – worth all that extra time.

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And the wonderful bride and groom… would you believe I introduced these two?

The fabric is a wax print from a shop in Brixton. I can’t remember the name, but it’s on Atlantic Road, on the same side as the covered market (but before you get to the market if you are walking from the station). I was drawn to the print straight away, and then I remembered I’d seen it before – Sew Vee’s Emerald Beetlejuice Colette Rue dress. I felt like a bit of a copycat and I did dither, I won’t lie – but I came to my senses and remembered that we don’t actually even know each other, so it wouldn’t matter if we had a similar dress! Plus, it was only £10 for six yards – can’t say fairer than that.

I have to say, I am soooo pleased with the fit of this dress – I lowered the darts and pinched a little out of the shoulder straps on the toile, but that’s all. It made such a huge difference using a pattern designed for someone with (.)(.)  The bodice is lined (I just used a nice black cotton), and I finished the hem by hand.

I made the pleated skirt version of the pattern, as you can see. The instructions were good – very easy to follow. The pattern wasn’t that difficult – it just took a while to do everything neatly and do the hand stitching. I also really like the effect I got by having the stripes vertical on the bodice and horizontal on the skirt. My only regret? I couldn’t find a necklace to go with the dress!

I also have to make a confession – Jen and Tom’s wedding was last year. Happy anniversary guys…

I wore this dress again recently, to our school prom. As it happens, one of my fellow teachers was a professional photographer before she hung up her camera for the riches and fame of secondary education, and she very kindly agreed to take a few pictures so you can see the dress more clearly. So I will leave you with her fantastic photos and the promise that you will see another Upton from me some time in the future – although maybe not until I have another event to motivate me…

 

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Wax Print Wednesday: Cleo

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Cleo! Wax print!

I can’t say I thought of making Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo up in a wax print all by myself – the idea came from the lovely Meg at Pigeon Wishes, when she posted her amazing yellow Cleo. But that’s the benefit of being constantly late to the party with new sewing patterns – you get to steal ideas from everyone else…

This is my second Cleo (I made one in a handsome black corduroy just before Christmas, but I’ve completely given up on the idea of blogging all my makes in chronological order), and I absolutely love the pattern. I know, I know, I must be the millionth person to say it, but it sews up so nicely and is such a lovely shape.

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As for the fit, I didn’t change anything. You might notice a bit of buckling on the bib, and I think maybe I could take a tuck out of the pattern and fix it, but honestly, I can’t be bothered. Guess what else I didn’t bother with? Matching the pattern on the back. That was partly laziness and partly fear – I am not great at matching. That fear is also what drove me to cut the front on the fold and skip the topstitching – I didn’t want to end up with any severed fingers right on the centre front! I did make an effort with the pattern placement though: I figured it was worth the time to make sure I didn’t have any unfortunately placed hands over my boobs!!

Hey and how about the fabric? I got it from Ktextile19 on Etsy specifically for this project. They don’t have any of this one left, but they have all sorts of gorgeous African prints (in fact, it’s also where I got the fabric for this dress).

That’s all I have to say about Cleo (summary: love it), but I should probably add that I live in London now – hence you can see St Paul’s Cathedral in the background of that last photo. I moved quite recently for work, so you can expect less greenery and more famous buildings in future posts!

Stealing ideas: my August sewing list

At the beginning of my teacher training in September, I spent a week in a Junior school, where the teacher had a very interesting saying for the kids: you can’t steal sweets or crisps, but you can steal ideas and make them your own.

Recently, and quite by chance, I saw the post My August Sewing List by Emily at Self Assembly Required. Hmm. I thought about that teacher’s phrase and decided I was stealing this idea. I’ve had a lot more time on my hands the last few weeks than I’ve had so far this year, and I haven’t used it particularly wisely as far as sewing goes. I decided a little dose of organisation might be exactly what I need. So without further ado, here are my #sewinggoals for August.

1. Tilly and the Buttons Lilou dress.

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This one is from Tilly’s book, which I acquired quite recently. It’s going to take a bit of pattern adjustment, because I want to lengthen the skirt and I officially live in FBA city, so I’ll need to do one of those as well. I have two fabrics to make it up in…

The pineapple fabric was cheaper, so I’m thinking I’ll use that, tack as I go, and keep my fingers crossed that I get away without making a toile…

2. Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers.

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I’m hoping these won’t take so much adjusting and should be a quick make (famous last words). I want to make a wearable toile of the trousers in this gingham:

And then I have a few other fabrics lined up to make them in – this plain blue should be lovely for summer and autumn (those ridges aren’t so obvious in the weave as this picture makes them seem… Blame my phone camera):

3.  Seamwork Addison blouse.

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Seamwork says this pattern should only take an hour to make up. Hmm. I might actually time myself (not including pattern adjustment) and see how long it takes. I don’t know if I sew super slowly or they sew super fast, but I suspect it will take me longer than an hour…

Anyway! I really loved the broderie anglaise they made the sample garment in. So…

And then, a couple of days later, I got an email from them about an add on alternative collar they were releasing with a sample made up in black and white gingham. So…

4. Tilly and the Buttons Delphine skirt.

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Also from Tilly’s book. Again, I’ll be lengthening this –  knee-length skirts look miles better on me. I am forever on the quest for the perfect A-line skirt. I tried Gertie’s flared skirt and my own self-drafted pattern, but I’m not completely sold on either of them. So once more unto the breach with Delphine and this red crêpe (same ridge caveat):

Is it too much? Am I mad? These are questions I ask myself often. But I guess we’ll find out!

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I’ve been a little unsure of publishing a post with photos taken in bleak weather. After all, it’s high summer and I’ve had to crack out the factor 50 even here in the North of England these past couple of weeks. This morning, however, greeted by a wall of grey clouds punctuated by a thin veil of drizzle, I decided I could get away with it.

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I made the skirt from a very simple pattern and a very bold fabric. It’s view E of New Look 6107, which I got free a good few month ago with Sew magazine.

You might have noticed that it’s not me in the pictures – in fact it’s my friend Roxie, who picked this fabric out at John Lewis. They do still have some in the Sheffield store and presumably others across the country, although I’ve also seen what I think is the same fabric on eBay. It’s a heavy cotton that has a kind of linen-y feel. It’s a little looser weave than most cottons, so I lined it using Tilly’s method, although – full disclosure – I did make a bit of a mess by sewing the zip into the fashion fabric and the lining at the same time.

Roxie was a very good sport about both my lining mess up and me having to take the skirt in a couple of inches – why do big pattern companies add loads of sneaky ease??! I love the way she’s styled it – I wish I could say I made the cape too. So a thank you to her for 1. enabling my habit, and 2. looking a beauty in the finished product!

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Goodwill to all men!

I was determined to make my own dress for Christmas this year. For one thing, I feel like I’ve worn all my party-type dresses to death, and secondly, we’re coming up on my one-year anniversary with sewing, and it seemed like an appropriate was to celebrate!

I got the pattern free with Sew Magazine – in fact, I’d been having a rough time and my Mama came home with a copy for me. The pattern is New Look 6723, and I decided to make view C, because I loooove an elegant boat neckline-sleeve combo in an evening dress.

In the magazine, they’d made a version out of silk dupion, listed at £20 a metre. Hmm. I can’t afford that kind of fabric, but it looked beautiful. Thankfully, I managed to find a likely substitute in the form of some faux silk dupion from eBay. I have to say, I was a little worried it was too good to be true – was I going to end up with three metres of shiny sweaty nightmare? But the fabric is actually really nice. Of course, you can tell if you touch it that it isn’t silk, and it doesn’t drape like silk, but it is still really lovely. I bought the colour “emerald” (fitting), but it has gold-y highlights and doesn’t feel too clingy and sweaty.

Want to see?

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It wasn’t difficult to make, although I don’t think my gathers are beautiful. Does anyone have a sure-fire technique for gathering fabric? I don’t understand how to make it even, then I get annoyed and give up. It took a little while – in fact, I finished all the hand-hemming on Christmas day morning!

The bodice is lined (but not the sleeves or the skirt, which suits me) and it was pretty nice to fit. I strongly recommend checking out this tutorial for doing a full-bust adjustment for princess seamed bodices. I think I might still need to take some material out between the shoulders and the “apex of the bust”. I think that’s why there are some wrinkles in the fabric there.

I paired it with gold eyes, nails, and earrings to bring out the gold tones in the fabric.

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I love the pattern and I want to make it in some other fabrics too – maybe a classic floral cotton? Let me know what you think!

Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome

You can call me Emy, and I’m interested in all sorts. One of those things is clothes, and for a long time I’ve dreamt of making my own. After several half-hearted attempts, I decided that 2015 would be the year I learnt to sew – really learnt, understood the different stitches on my machine, became owner of a rainbow of threads, and swanned around in my own creations. Oh this? I made it myself.

Six months into the year, I’m still going strong, and I’ve decided that I want to start sharing my creations. I’m no expert yet, so I’m inviting you to join my learning curve – and maybe we can help each other out.

I’ll write about some others things too. Books. Food. Languages, maybe. Really, it will be a bit of a cabaret – so please, bleibe, reste, stay!

Love,

Emy