Monday, 25 July 2016

Summery 70s-ish Staple Dress

 Hi folks,

Here's something I just whipped up quickly to reacquaint myself with my sewing machine after the holiday away. I have so many ideas in my head about what I want to create next – but none that won't require pattern tracing and potential adjustments, so I really wanted a quick win project to get myself back in the creative flow. These snaps are day two of wear (and I'm a wee bit hungover in these) so not the best photos, but I have to grab my moments! 

This is the AprilRhodes Staple dress. I've made this three times now; the first time for my friend Holly, and then I whipped up the hi-lo hem version formyself as I needed something breezy to wear in the heat last summer. It's a great dress for keeping cool as it only really touches the body at the shirred waist, and it's sooo easy to make. For this version I was inspired by a top that one of my colleague wears that features dropped shoulders and these sweet little fluted short sleeves (sorry for copying you Kirsten!). I figured it would be easy enough to work with the Staple Dress pattern to achieve a similar effect, and it was.  

 I'm pretty pleased with the sleeve addition, and I think it's an easy nod to the trends as well as providing some cool summery coverage. This addition could be easily grafted onto any kimono-style cap sleeve so I'm sure would work with many patterns. I went with the straight hem version of the dress this time, and after being tempted to leave it loose in the middle (my boyfriend was not sold on this look) I brought it in with 6 rows of shirring, each 1/4" apart. 

If you're keen to try this yourself, the steps are as follows (sorry I didn't take any photos along the way, this was very much an experiment that I'm glad worked out):

1. Draft your fluted sleeve by tracing the armhole curve* from the pattern. Draw lines at the sides for as long as you want your sleeve to be, adding 3cm for seam allowance at the top and bottom of the sleeve extension (I went for 14cm + 3cm for these half-sleeves). To achieve a kicky fluted effect I copied the curve of the shoulder seam on both sides to form the overarm fold and underarm seamline. Use a French curve to draw a smooth outer edge.

2. Cut 4 of your new sleeve extensions on the overarm fold, 2 as the sleeve and 2 as the facing. Attach your sleeve to the sleeve facing along the lower edge, using a standard 1.5cm seam allowance.

3. For the order of construction, I attached these after I'd sewn the shoulder seams, but before sewing my side seams (if I did it again I think I would finish my neckline first, as there is a fair bit of fabric manipulation while you're attaching and finishing the sleeves which I think may have stretched out my neckline a little). Right sides together, sew the inner curve of the sleeve extension into your arm opening.

4. Sew the side seams of the dress, sleeves and sleeve facings in one pass and finish seam allowances.

5. Fold the facings back into the inside of the sleeve and press. Press 1.5cm along the remaining raw edge and pin to cover the inside sleeve seam, easing as you go, with all seam allowances caught between the sleeve and sleeve facing. From the outside, stitch in the ditch (if you can! I'm rubbish at this) or, if you're me, 1/8” away from the seam to catch the facing neatly in place.

6. Ta-dah, you have kicky little flute sleeves!

Things I might streamline if I did it again:

1. *I hadn't factored in the shoulder seam allowance would make a smaller armhole when I traced that curve. Next time, I might shave this off, as I had to do a fair bit of easing to get the smooth sleeve insertion I wanted. Or, if I was making this in a floatier fabric, I could go the other way and add more ease here for a more bohemian ruffled effect!

2. Cut the facings slightly smaller along all the edges to make the final folding back and stitching in place smoother, and also to ensure the facings stay inside and out of sight. Depending on fabric, you could always ditch the facing and just do a baby hem to finish the edge of the sleeve.

3. The length of these sleeves hits me right in the crook of the elbow. Next time, I might either shorten them a cm or two, or even take the length off from the shoulder seam so they start a little higher up.

I traced this pattern out as large on top and medium from the waist down and I think if I made it again I'd just go medium all over, as actually it's got plenty of ease and I think there is too much in the back. It doesn't bother me too much though for these quick and easy summer versions, and I appreciate the breeze!

The fabric I made this up in is salvaged from my mother's stash. There are still a couple of metres left I could make another little dress or blouse in! This is I think a polycotton, judging by its texture, which is a teeny bit crisp. Its likely provenance is Peter Jones in the early '80s, as my mum used to work in the haberdashery department there.

So, overall not a bad experiment and definitely an easy dress to chuck on for work or a summery day out. I don't think it's the most stunning thing I've ever sewn, but it does seem to have earned me a few more doors held open for me than normal so that's something I suppose! Is anyone else doing any experimental sewing?

Norseotter xx

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Classic Ginger Jeans

Hi folks,

I've just come back from the most amazing break away in Canada and the US. Bit weird to have watched the developments in the UK from afar (this was the topic of many a conversation as soon as people clocked my English accent) and strange to be back after so much has happened. But anyway, on a lighter note being away was wonderful- I swam in the sea in Vancouver, further up BC's Sunshine Coast, then in LA's Venice Beach and the OC's Newport Beach once we made it down to California. Swimming in the sea is what makes a holiday for me!

I had ambitious plans to have several things completed to take away with me, and although I did manage to pack a majority me-made wardrobe I didn't actually manage to take much that was created especially with me. Still need to get that shirtdress and pyjama set finished this summer! I did however  to finish these jeans, which came in valuable for the Vancouver part of the journey. I finished them the week before we left, and these photos were taken today- so about a month afterwards and not having been washed yet!

These have seen plenty of wear- I actually wore them on the 9 hour flight out, as well as the first few days in Vancouver when the weather was a bit changeable. They also protected me from mozzies the first evening at the cabin we went to on the Sunshine Coast (the evening I didn't wear them I scored upwards of 20 bites!). I had a vision of taking some lovely snaps of these in action out there for this blog post, but somehow when being at the cabin it just didn't seem like the thing to do - we were too busy seal and eagle spotting, diving off the dock, exploring in the boat, BBQ'ing and drinking beer!
These have left an indigo tidemark on the inside of my white raincoat (d'oh) so I was afraid to wash them while I was away. I bought some new denim while I was at Mood in LA (as well as some great banana leaf print chambray!) so I'll wash it with that and a healthy dose of vinegar to try and prevent further dye transfer. Here are my apple-print pockets (left over from cushion-making, always great to match the furnishings right?) which are unlikely to stay a nice crisp white after the wash!

So, these are the Ginger jeans view A (low rise with stovepipe leg) made up in a size 12 with no adjustments. I've made these once before in corduroy, and the fit straight out of the wash is pretty decent (although being non-stretch they do bag out badly during the day). This is Italian denim from eBay, can't remember where, but it was around £8 a metre so seemed a safe bet for a second wearable muslin before I cut into the Cone Mills stuff I've been stashing for too long now! This denim seems to be pretty decent quality and a very classic colour, with a decent heft to the weight. I am a bit underwhelmed by my rivets though, I definitely need to move on to the nicer ones included in the Ginger jeans kit for a more professional look.

Close-ups from when these were freshly made and unworn

These are comfortable to wear, but the waistband has got a bit bent and flips out slightly under the belly after a while (not the most flattering look) so normally I would wear them with a longer untucked top to cover this. I'm quite tempted to try and draft a mid-rise to avoid this as my abdomen isn't my favourite feature so I'm not that comfortable showcasing it. I could probably take a teeny wedge out of the centre back waistband too for my swayback, but it doesn't gape quite as much as previous RTW jeans I've owned. I prefer to wear these rolled at the ankle like this as the full length somehow feels a little bit 'blokey' on me. It doesn't show so much in these photos with my heeled clogs, but with my everyday brogues I almost feel like I should be sporting braces and a flat cap.

I really like how classic these are, and I have to say I actually found the contrast topstitching a bit easier than my first go of black-on-black. Maybe it's having had the practice now, but I also thinking being able to see it properly helped a lot! I also took my black Ginger view Bs away with me (these are pretty much my only pairs of trousers now) and they survived a hike up the Grouse Grind (although I confess I did have to unzip them at a particularly steep bit for ease of movement! Luckily I had a long t-shirt on). I can't wait to make more jeans!

How's your summer sewing going?

NorseOtter xxx