Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Black and Orange Paisley Print Midi Dress

Autumn sunset colours and another dress, this time in a flowing midi length 1970's style.  This is a super-sized paisley print in black, cream, grey, oranges and pinks.   

Its a burdastyle pattern (for either a maxi or midi length dress) from the June 2016 edition.  I had intended to do the full maxi at first, but due to limited fabric I had to cut the length shorter. I'm very happy with the midi length actually and as my summer tanned legs will rapidly fade back to the colour of skimmed milk by October, I'm making them most keeping just a few inches of lower calf on show for now.  It's a great length to wear with boots too, making it perfect for going into the chillier months.  

The design has a very flattering inset godet panel at the front that flares out from the waistline, and the shaped bodice flows down into quite a full skirt.  The skirt sides and back are cut on the bias.  There is a sewn-in band around the waist on either side of the godet that ties at the back.  I have to say the shaping is great and the fit very flattering for me.  I cut a size 14, which came out pretty spot on as a UK size 12.

I love coral colours of this material and I like a bold print occasionally, and so when I spotted this crazy paisley fabric for £3 per meter a while ago it just had to be mine.  It was just waiting for the right pattern to suit it.  I have no idea what the content is (man made fibres to be sure) but it's quite a weighty fabric and slightly stretchy with a really good drape and flow to it.  Hell to cut out and keep still enough to sew, but beautiful to wear.  

The sleeves are very full and flippy, making a great top shape in contrast to the plunging neckline at the back and front. I love the deep double V neck on this, but you might need to adjust according to your comfort zone before cutting the bodice out.  I'd recommend a couple of bra strap loops to keep things in place on the shoulders too, especially if the fabric is a bit weighty.

Cutting the pieces was a challenge with this pattern repeat as I really didn't want any obvious repeats cropping up in odd places, and neither did I want to miss any opportunities for a nice placement.  I was particularly careful with the front godet, which I cut carefully and then placed and pinned.  It wriggled horribly on the machine, with seemingly acres of heavy slippery fabric that was hell-bent on pulling away from me.  Inevitably this ended up with the print being way off kilter and the whole thing had to be unpicked and re-set in.  Bleurgh!  I made sure I basted it in the next time so it was held securely.  

I was short of fabric to properly deal with the design repeat, so that I was winging it for the most part actually and just needed to squeeze every piece out as best I could.  Luckily the print is large and quite random, so the repeat isn't clearly visible.  This fabric has a bouncy texture which just wouldn't submit to ironing at all and in fact the finish on the hems is just a very close zig zag along the raw edge, no turning under as it wouldn't lay flat. I usually prefer cotton, linen and wool mixes to work with as they are much less likely to have a mind of their own and are well behaved on the machine and under the iron.  The upside is though, it doesn't tend to crease, so although it's refusal to iron means some of the seams are not as flat as I'd like, the benefit is it won't crumple easily on wearing.  And less ironing of clothes generally is bonus all round.

I have omitted the full lining on this dress, and I'm very happy for it to be without one.  I would usually line most dresses as the fit is usually much better and skims over the body with less creeping or bunching fabric.  Lining also stops you being caught showing all you've got, when the sun shines right through the fabric and you realise your dress is more transparent than you thought!   

However this fabric is very opaque and so slinky-malinky that I just felt the skirt lining would only add unnecessary bulk.  The bold pattern prevents any of the lighter coloured areas revealing what lies beneath.  I experimented a bit with a facing to finish the neckline and in the end opted for a bodice lining only, using a dark grey cotton poplin.  This makes the top section comfortable and stable around the neck, but doesn't constrict the movement of the dress.  I really like flippin' those sleeves around!

And so it was off to its debut outing for a garden party on Saturday, with a gang I haven't seen for most of the summer.  What with school holidays, work and kids to juggle and a couple of weeks in France I don't seem to have had a chance to hand out with friends for quite a while.  Of course if you combine a group of the most fun and fabulous ladies I know with prosecco on tap and professional entertainment, it was a hilarious and very late night. Apologies to all of my lovely friend's neighbours for having to listen to me belting out Don Henley 'Boys of Summer' at the top of my voice and non-too tunefully at 2am in the garden. In my defence, the wonderful guitarist who had previously been playing had left a unguarded mic outside in plain view and the results were inevitable I'm afraid.  Anyway, a fantastic last summer fling was had by all and so onwards into Autumn!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Burdastyle Dress for France

Pinch and a Punch!  First of the Month!  It's September and the beginning of autumn days and probably, possibly, quite likely my favourite time of year.  I love summer too of course and have just been fortunate enough to have nearly two weeks in Jura, France for my holidays this year, which was amazing.  But then I came home to red apples on the trees in my garden, pounds of fruit and veg on my allotment and crisp blue skies in the morning against which my giant sunflowers are beaming and I completely love it.

A few weeks ago I made this dress to take away with me to France.  It's a burdastyle pattern from last year in the June (2016) edition.  

This is me standing near the fountain in Champignole, which was the nearest little town to where we were staying.  Blending seamlessly with the stonework. (The grey linen and leather cross body bag behind me on the floor is also made my me, and is a couple of years old now, but still going strong!). The fabric I chose is a mid weight cotton print that looks a little like camouflage but has a floral design in calm, neutral shades. 

The neckline is quite high, but with cutaway shoulders it makes quite a nice outline I think.  

I'm already familiar with constructing the neckline as I have made a couple of tops with this lapped shoulder from the same pattern sheet.  This is the version from the magazine, and you can just make out the line drawing shape below.  On closer inspection, you can see the dress has a couple of nice design features, despite being quite a simple shape.  There are two inset panels that angle down at the front, which tend to disappear into the print somewhat, but make a nice additional detail.  

This is the first time I have cut and sewn a proper mitred edge on a panel like this and I really enjoyed this little technique.  They insert into the dress at the front of the arm hole and extend downwards and forwards, returning back into the side seam.  To construct them  you are beginning with pieces that look like this.

You then pin one longer one, over the other shorter one and and sew the end together...

Turn it out so that you have a nice neat pointy bit and here you can see I've also marked the centre fold line with stitching.  So when you fold on this line - voila!

A beautifully turned, perfectly mitred corner.  This then fits along the shaped side seams of the dress.  I found this very satisfying to do and if you like to have a bit more help with each step (as I do, although I'm just about able now to follow burdastyle's leaner instruction format in this regard) you'll be pleased to know that this dress is featured in the 'sewing course' in the magazine so there is a fair bit of detail in the instructions and more pictures for you to follow. A solid colour fabric would show all the lovely sharp panel corners off more I think.  But I know they're there!  Here is a dress form picture or two.

Always great to have pockets in a dress, they are in the side seams here.  The back has an invisible zip (not quite as invisible as I'd hoped for actually, I did use a normal zipper foot to put this one in and although I usually find it ok without a special foot, this time I didn't manage to get quite as close to the teeth as I thought).  I used a hook and eye at the top to close the neck band.

This dress was great for the couple of days we visited local towns and once on a trip to the local market, but actually the rest of the holiday was spent in various combinations of swimwear and cut off denim shorts and tees.  Half of the suitcase remained unpacked as we were mostly just swimming in the wonderful turquoise lake nearby and hanging around our chalet relaxing or playing badminton.  Or eating cheese.  Or drinking wine.  This was the lake we swam in every day, surrounded by forest and completely magical.  That colour!

Looking stylish really didn't feature an awful lot, which was very refreshing actually.  Although I'm loving being back and having my full wardrobe to choose from again.

I did find this one perfect outfit accessory though.  This little vintage beauty was one of four, all the same country cream colour (with more than a hint of rust) and all of them gently crumbling away in a local farmyard.  It would have gone with my dress perfectly I think, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have missed just one of them if we'd towed it home.

Back to the indian summer sun and sunflowers here in England now though and ready for a new season's style.  Hope you had a fabulous summer too.