Keeping it simple

Wednesday 27 October 2021

I have had this piece of multi-coloured plaid cotton sateen out on my cutting table for several days trying to decide what to make from it. It was an on-line purchase, so I didn't really see that it had an unbalanced plaid until I received the fabric and spread it out - had I realised this I would have bought more fabric because it would have made things far easier! I tried so many combinations of different dresses, shirts and skirts to get that dominant blue line equally balanced on both sides, and then I tried a simple shape but on the bias which also didn't work due to lack of fabric.

So in the end I decided to keep the pattern simple, and just make another dress with a plain bodice with a gathered skirt - less need for pattern matching that way. This is Burda 07/2015 #115, which I made just a few weeks ago from another cotton sateen. It's a simple pattern and easy to wear, so is a winner in my books.

I was really disappointed in the quality of this fabric. This cotton sateen from Nerida Hansen is quite thin and more like cotton lawn or poplin to me, which actually is quite perfect for this style of dress. I've since discovered that  the term 'sateen' refers to the weave and shine, and not the fabric weight, it's just that cotton sateen I've purchased from other stores are quite thick and stretchy that can be used for tailored pants and jackets etc which this fabric definitely could not. 

However what I most disappointed about was that this fabric was printed quite off grain which made it even more difficult to pattern match. At first I thought it might just be that the tight weave at the selvage might be causing the stripes to skew, because it was mainly at the edges that the stripes didn't line up. So I clipped the seams and tried to stream and stretch it straight which didn't really help.

In the end I cut the fabrics out single layer and ignored the grain lines, instead preferring to have the stripes lined up. A massive sewing crime I know, but the skirt and bodice seems to sit well enough and getting those stripes horizontal was more important to me.

Luckily this pattern doesn't have a centre back seam, so no pattern matching was required there, and for the skirt I used the full 150cm width so there's only one side seam which again reduces the need for pattern matching.

I probably should have cut out the fabric a bit more carefully so that the dark blue stripe is at my waistline and the dark green vertical stripe at the centre front continued through the skirt but now I'm probably overthinking it all. If this was a RTW dress I probably wouldn't be this picky at all! 

Anyway, after all that whinging I actually like this dress. It's light and simple to wear since it literally just slips on over my head with no zippers, buttons etc and the gathered skirt means it's not too tight or restrictive which is important after all these months of wearing stretchy sweat pants! And while the fabric quality is annoying, especially since this isn't the cheapest of fabrics, it is going to help me reduce my fabric purchases in future because I don't think I'll purchase any more fabric from this seller. So there is a silver lining in almost everything!

Dressing like my home decor

Monday 18 October 2021

Earlier this year I bought some vibrant home dec fabric by Kirsten Katz from Spotlight with the intention of making some new cushion covers for my lounge. But the longer the fabric sat on my cutting table the more I wanted to make something wearable from it instead. Which is what I did!

The fabric is a thick, non-stretch cotton so I couldn't make anything that needed any drape or stretch. My favourite pleated a-line skirt is the perfect shape for this fabric.

woman posing in a bright floral skirt

The pattern is from a 2014 Burda Easy magazine that I picked up at a Sydney Spoolettes fabric swap day and I've now made several times. It is really easy to make, it has pockets, it is pleated to give space for movement but isn't too full so there's no danger of flashing anyone on a windy day - all in all, a great pattern.

The back view is cut on the fold which means there's no pesky pattern matching required which was handy for a bold print like this.

The front has a long row of buttons which frankly is the most time consuming part of making this skirt! All those buttons and buttonholes are a bit fiddly and get a bit lost in a busy print like this, but in a plain fabric it would be a nice look.

And the best part is I did have some fabric left over to make some cushion covers, because I made the backs of the cushions from plain black cotton. These are just simple square and rectangle shapes, and I used zippers from the stash so another equally quick and simple project.

There's nothing better than matching your home decor is there? ­čśé


McCalls 8030: Liberty shirt dress

Sunday 3 October 2021

A shirt dress is fast becoming my favourite style of dress in these weird 'stay at home business casual' kind of times. I made Simplicity 8014 four times last year (see the round up here) but this time I thought I'd try a new pattern just to mix things up. And why not use beautiful and expensive Liberty on an untested fabric right!? Sometimes my cavalier attitude appals me, but hey it's only fabric.....

This dress is McCalls 8030, one of the new trendy instagram age patterns that has its own name - 'Josie'.  It's a loosefitting dress, hence it comes in the s-m-l-xl range instead of actual sizes.

I've seen some really great dresses made from this pattern, with some clever sewers doing interesting things with stripes and colour blocking. But I had some Liberty cotton bought earlier this year (not during their recent 40% off sale unfortunately) that I was keen to use for a casual summer dress, so I elected just to line up the pattern instead which frankly made the yoke pointless. Afterwards I realised I should have put some navy piping along that seam line to make it stand out, but as a consolation I did match up the pattern fairly well.

Liberty cotton can be very crisp when it's new, but over time it will soften up and that will probably help this dress wear a little better than it does now. Right now though I'm not loving it. Without the belt  it's really shapeless and unflattering, but when worn with the belt it needs constant tugging down every time I lift my arms.

Not having separate sleeves to set in makes this a really quick sew, but those cut on sleeves are the culprit for the poor fit: they are open to quite low on the body (just above my waist). And in this crisp cotton fabric they really stand out from my arms.

So if you're contemplating this pattern I'd recommend a drapey fabric or a stripey fabric to make the most of the pattern lines. It is a really quick and simple project to make, so perfect for beginners or those short of time. I'll still wear this lots over the upcoming Australian summer since I'll be spending the rest of the year working from home and the roominess of this makes it almost like wearing a nightdress but business appropriate! But I think I'll go back to my beloved Simplicity 8014 for any future shirt dresses.