Monday, 18 July 2016

The Sylvie Dress...a perfect summer dress

Let me introduce you to my latest make - the Sylvie Dress by Christine Haynes. It was a lovely day on Saturday so I persuaded my daughter to take some pictures.  As you can see I am squinting terribly, and Oscar was keen to get in on the action as usual!

There are two different versions of this pattern that you can make. Both versions of the dress feature an unlined sleeveless bodice with three small darts under the bust and a wide lined waistband. I will point out that the waistband looks much thinner on the pattern illustration that it actually is. The waistband is lined and interfaced which gives this section some structure.

The back bodice has darts and the neckline and armholes are finished with bias binding. View A has a gathered dirndl skirt which is basically a rectangle of fabric. The dirndl skirt also has large patch pockets.  View B has piping and a fitted pencil skirt. The illustration makes this look more like an an A-line skirt than the photos on Christine Haynes's website. I chose to make View A as this is more my personal style.

For my dress, I chose to use a polycotton that I picked up for £3 a metre in Hobbycraft. I decided not to make a muslin as the dress didn't seem like it was going to be too fitted but I didn't want to take a chance with expensive fabric. I bought two metres which was enough to cut the dress and the binding although I did have to join my bias strips together rather than using continuous pieces as per the pattern. The pattern calls for 2.75 m of 150m wide fabric or 3.3m of 115m wide fabric so you can certainly save on fabric requirements if you used ready-made bias binding. I think this fabric requirement also takes into account the amount required if your fabric has a one-directional print.

I made a size 8 based on my measurements (36 inch bust) and I made no adjustments at all.  I have to say the fit is pretty good.  It's fitted but not too tight, so makes a nice dress to wear on a hot summer's day.

The dress was easy to sew together and the instructions were very clear and detailed.  The most time consuming part of making this dress was the bias bound neckline and armholes.  I found this quite fiddly and time consuming. The pattern uses double fold bias binding rather than single fold binding, which is basically single fold pressed in half again.  The pattern instructs you how to make you own double fold bias binding. The instructions on how to attach the bias binding are super detailed, however this part can be a little confusing. There are loads of brilliant tutorials on how to use bias binding including this one on Christine Haynes' website.  I posted a comment to ask her whether I could use single fold bias binding and this is her reply:

 "Hi Catherine! Yes, it is 100% personal preference. So if you prefer single fold bias tape, you can absolutely use that in place of the double fold. From teaching I've found that my students prefer the double fold, so that's how I got in the habit of using it. But by all means use the one that you prefer. Glad you like the Sylvie Dress! Thank you!"

It was lovely to get such a detailed personal response.

I think when I make this dress again (and I am planning my next), I will draft an all-in-one facing and see if I prefer that finish.  That said my bias binding is pretty neat but I do feel like the neckline stretched out slightly despite stay-stitching. The only other change I made was to leave the pockets off as I couldn't quite get my pockets the same size.  I think I will make a card template next time and use this to press my pockets into shape. 

My invisible zip is really neat and I am getting really good at inserting them.  The only thing I still find really tricky is closing the gap at the bottom of the zipper tape.  Any tips on how to do this?  I inserted it a little low so also need to add a hook and eye. 

So to sum it up, the Sylvie Dress is a great pattern. It was fairly easy to make and I think an ambitious beginner could certainly tackle view A, although view B might be a bit more tricky.  I am surprised how few Sylvie dresses there seem to be out there in the blogosphere, given what a great pattern designer Christine Hayne's is and how popular the Emery Dress is.  The Sylvie Dress is a perfect dress for a summer's day and is super wearable.

I hope I've inspired you to give this pattern a shot.  I'd love to hear from you if you do make it or if you have any other perfect summer dresses to recommend.


Saturday, 14 May 2016

New Look 6483.... in less than a week

My last post was a round up of my favourite simple sewing patterns in my stash. I've finished my first make, New Look 6483! And it look me less than a week! I spent a bit of time adjusting the pattern last weekend, and then it probably took two evenings of sewing plus a little bit of of  extra time hand sewing. Not bad for me!

The pattern came free with Sew Magazine this month. It comes with 5 different options. I chose view E with the wider neckline as I felt this was the most flattering.  The suggested fabrics are ginghams, laundered cottons (which is just cotton that has been washed to remove the stiffness caused by the sizing), silks, silk types, rayons etc. So fabric with a bit of drape is required.

The top does not have a zip and is fasten with a simple thread loop and button.  There is an all in one facing for the neck and armholes. The pattern is rated "easy" and claims to take one hour to sew! (not including cutting out time etc).

However, my major rookie mistake on this pattern was not reading the instructions through fully before starting!  I was merrily sewing along following the instructions for view A, and when I came to attach the facing I realized that View B-E are constructed in a different way.  Out came the seam ripper! Note to self always read the instructions fully before starting.

While this is a fairly simple make in the fact that there is no zip, I'd actually say the finishing of the facing is quite tricky and a beginner might struggle with this. This was a new technique to me although I have done an all in one facing before on my Simplicity 1609 dress, this version was constructed differently. The facing is attached the neck edge and armholes then turned to the inside. The shoulder seams are then sewn being careful not to catch the pressed edge of the facing in the stitching. The shoulder seams are then slipped under the facing, and the edges of the facing are slipped stitched together, like I said, quite tricky!

The top has slits at the sides and these are finished with mitred corners.  This is quite tricky too and this was also a new technique to me.  I do love it though when you learn new things along the way!

I also couldn't remember for the life of me how to do the thread loop either so this video on youtube came in handy! I also made a self covered button to match the top.

My material came from the market stall in St Albans where I often pick up fabric.  It cost £3 for a metre and is 100% cotton.  I also noticed he had the same fabric in white, so may go back to get some more if he still has it.

Button, thread, interfacing all came from my stash and the pattern was free with Sew magazine so this beauty of a top cost me £3 to make!

With regards to sizing, I decided to take a new approach.  I got Fit for Real People for my birthday and I used this to help.  Fit for Real People is a brilliant book, it looks really dated but there is so much useful information in there, I thoroughly recommend buying it if you are looking for fitting advice.

I made a similar top when I started blogging, New Look 6356 in a size 14, based on my bust size, and that came out huge before I adjusted the back. So this time, I took my high bust measurement and cut out a size 10 based on this measurement.  I then tried on the tissue which is tricky on your own, believe me, and measured to the centre front.  I needed to make a 5/8 inch bust adjustment which I did to the paper pattern. I then decided to just go ahead and make my top as the material was inexpensive and I had done most of the fitting with the tissue pattern.

Anyway the result is pretty good I think! It was a lovely day today and I was able to get some photos in the garden for a change.  Oscar was keen to join in with the fun too. It was very bright today so apologies for the squinting.

I'm really pleased with the fit of this top. The top fits nicely round the bust and the back is not too wide.  There is maybe a slight gaping at the back neckline but nothing like I have had before.  I think I need now to adjust for a slight round neck which involves adding an extra wedge of the material to the back neckline to raise it slightly so that it doesn't gape away from the curve of the back.

I thoroughly recommend New Look 6483 as it is a great little wardrobe builder. It's exactly the sort of top I can wear to work or dress down with jeans.  I can definitely see me making some more of these, especially as it can be squeezed out of a metre of fabric!

Anyone else made this pattern, I would love to hear from you?  And if you made it in an hour, I'm mightily impressed!

Catherine x

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Six simple sewing patterns

If you read my last blog post, you'll know that I discussed making simple everyday items rather than making more complicated, time-consuming patterns.

Whilst I love sewing, I work full time and I'm also a mum.  I have found it really difficult recently to find the time to sew and then that it is taking me several weeks to finish something that I've started sewing, which can be a bit frustrating at times.

Also although I love making and wearing dresses, I  want to have more me-made items that I can wear on a daily basis.  It would be nice to be able to sew something fairly quickly and not get bogged down by it. 

I thought it  would be a good idea to check my pattern stash to see what simple patterns I already own. I've chosen patterns I've not sewn with before.

Here are my top six picks from my pattern stash....

This is a "Design Your Look" pattern from New Look, with knee or maxi length versions, 2 different bodice options and sleeve variations.  This is one of the first sewing patterns that I bought, so I have no idea why I didn't get round to making it. There are no zips or button holes and has an elasticated raised waistline. It looks like it needs to be made from a material with a good drape and think this would make a lovely summer dress. There are some great versions about, check out this maxi dress version by Aventures of a Clueless Seamstress.

Simplicity 2414

My next choice is Simplicity 2414. This claims to be a one hour sewing pattern and features a range of drawstring trousers and tiered skirts in two lengths.  This is not the most sophisticated of patterns but I can imagine wearing view C on my summer holidays or either of the skirts. These would look good in a lightweight linen type material.  I couldn't find many versions of this pattern online, so maybe it's not very popular?

Simplicity Lisette 2059

This pattern is no longer in print and I think I picked this up on ebay. The pattern features an easy pull-on blouse, an A-line bias cut skirt and an easy fitting belted dress. The shaping on the dress and blouse is achieved by gathers, so no darts to worry about!  However, if I make this I won't be copying the model's choice of socks!

New Look 6068

This pattern is also described as "easy" and for a change it actually does look easy! This is a pull-over dress with bust darts and no zips to worry about.  It has a choice of sleeves and can be made with a collar. I know this is a versatile dress, if you read Rosa's blog at Fancy Frugality, you can see that she has made it loads of times. By the way, Rosa now has a vlog that you should check out too!

New Look 6216

This one is another New Look pattern, again described as "easy". By the way, the reason I have so many New Look patterns is they keep having the half price sales!  The t-shirt features kimono sleeves, and a scoop neck and can be made with short sleeves or three quarter length sleeves.  The trousers are not meant for knit materials and they also feature a drawstring waist. Not sure if they would look like PJ pants once made up? In fact the whole pattern could totally be adapted for PJs I think!

New Look 6217

I got this pattern free with Sew Magazine. I've seen this popping up recently on a lot of blogs, including Handmade Jane and Kestrel Makes. It features a kimono sleeve top for wovens, a kimono jacket and a skirt and trousers. The top looks as easy as it can get, two pattern pieces, no darts and a button closure.  It obviously is meant to be a loose fitting top and needs to be made with something with drape like a rayon or viscose.

New Look 6483

My final pattern choice also came free with Sew Magazine.  This is a shell top with five different options, and again it states that it is a one hour sewing pattern.  I can tell you that it definitely will take you longer than one hour, as I have already started making this!  There are no zips and the neck and armholes are finished with an all in-one facing.  Hopefully I will have something to share with you soon!

What do you think of my pattern choices?

Have you made any of these or can you recommend any quick to sew simple patterns. I'd love to hear what you think.

Catherine x
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