Saturday, 27 August 2016

Heather: Bank Holiday Botanical Button Back Blouse

We've been enjoying a spot of sunshine here in Lincoln (between the thunderstorms) so when I picked up a metre of this beautiful botanical print linen/viscose mix fabric from the Craftea Sewing Bee Shop last week I decided to top up my summer wardrobe, with the added challenge to make myself to make something other than a dress, for a change!

Seeing as I don't often make anything other than dresses, I was lacking a suitable pattern in my stash so I dug out the pattern from my custom fit blouse, made back in February, and decided to adapt it for a summer version. I removed the sleeves and narrowed the shoulders by an inch, widened the neckline and split the back panel down the centre, adding a button channel to make things interesting!

The print on this fabric is huge- the detail you can see above is a good handspan wide- and it also runs in two different directions. This would be ideal for a shift dress where the whole pattern can be shown off, but in the interests of sticking to my plans I set about making the most of the detail for my blouse.  

Pattern match through the button channel on the back.
I started by cutting two panels for the back, paying extra attention to the pattern match over the button channel. I carefully placed the front pieces to have a centre front detail and cut two side panels to complement the design.

Aren't these the prettiest facings?
As my previous pattern had sleeves and a collar, I didn't have any existing facings for my new blouse, so I drafted some from the fabric scraps. The inside of this blouse is as pretty as the outside!

Here's a pic of the back of the blouse. Despite measuring thrice, I somehow miscalculated on the button channel at the back and, in order to ensure the pattern still matched, I had to use a very narrow button channel through the back. After wearing the blouse for a day the linen had started to lose its firmness, so I had a bit of a rethink later on, stitching up the centre back, adding "fake" button detail down the new seam and inserting a side zip instead. No one will ever know...
Me with Mum's prize Dahlias.
Despite a few tweaks required after the first wear, I'm absolutely thrilled with the result of this top, and I should be able to wear it with jeans on those stormy days too. I'll definitely be making a few more tops in future.

Enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend! 

The fabric used in this post was kindly provided by Fabric Corner Lincoln, based at The Craftea Sewing Bee Shop, 22-24 Melville Street Lincoln, and at Lincoln's Historic Central Market.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Heather: Project Runway "Missoni" dress

It's been a little while since my last post, due in part to holidays, and also to some very challenging projects! So I thought I'd take a few minutes to show you this gorgeous zigzag lace dress that I made back at the end of July. 

I was given the pattern at the Big Simplicity Blog Meet back in May and didn't really think I'd ever use it, but when I spotted the fabric, which is really similar to the picture, I thought I'd give it a go.

The fabric is from Fabric Corner in Lincoln and was a remnant piece from a heap of individual pieces of lace that were all equally tempting! I was particularly attracted to this one because it had a beautiful zigzag selvage that I thought I could incorporate into the hem somehow. Several people have asked me if it's a Missoni fabric; It isn't, but happy to pretend!

As I mentioned, this was a pretty challenging project. The lace fabric was extremely slippery and the very bold print meant I really had to ensure that the pattern matched throughout the garment. I started off by tracing out the required pattern pieces onto dot and cross paper, making a full sized piece for all of the pieces marked to cut on the fold. This made lining up the stripes much easier!

I checked my size against the finished garment measurements and opted for a size 4 across the shoulders out to a size 10 at the waist and a size 14 across the hips. Once I laid the pattern onto the fabric I realised that I didn't have quite enough fabric to line up all the pieces, but also that the pieces looked really huge, even though the dress is intended to have an elasticated waist. Returning to the pattern I discovered that it had been designed with 8.5 inches of ease! 8.5! I proceeded to reduce the pattern pieces down to sizes 4-6-8 to remove a lot of this ease. I also shortened and re-curved the hemline by 8 inches at this point, so that the front would fall just on the knee and the dropped hem at the back would fall to mid calf. 

Once I had cut out all of the pieces and lined up every possible zigzag, I cut the same pieces out in a fine purple cotton lining. This isn't called for in the pattern instructions, but the fabric was far too sheer to go without, and the neckline would not have lent itself to a slip. From here on the majority of the construction was completed on the overlocker which handled the fabric beautifully. 

One of the most interesting features of the dress is the neckline. The halter style is created by inserting three curved neckline pieces into a channel, rather than using a strip or fabric or ribbon. For the channel section I cut away the lining fabric at the seam allowance to prevent bulk. 
Pattern matched through the neck facing!
Finished centre back fastened with covered buttons and hand stitched button loops. 
The dress has an elasticated waist sewn into another channel which I created between the lining and outer layers. Two long strips of fabric then form ribbons which pass through these (pattern matched) button loops and are tied together in a bow at the back.

The hemline detail was my main focus throughout the creation of this dress. Having made my wedding dress a few years ago I'm no stranger to attaching a lace hem, but I knew this was going to be hand-stitch hell. To get the selvage from the fabric I used small, sharp scissors to cut around the zig zag design for the full 1.5 metre length of the edge. The edge of the garment is overlocked and then the lace trim was placed over the top, lined up with the design and then hand stitched to create an almost invisible finish.
The selvage stitched on to the hem.
And here is the finished garment! It has turned out even more lovely than I could have hoped!

 Here I am wearing the dress on a recent trip to Harrogate.


The materials for this project were sourced at the Craftea Sewing Bee Shop at 22-24 Melville Street, Lincoln. The pattern was kindly donated by Simplicity Patterns.