Stripy Chevron Dresses

Every cloud has a silver lining, and being ill* in bed means I have caught up with the 200+ posts in my blog reader and even though I feel better today I am staying in my pjs at my computer just in case. Luckily I have more dresses from the “Garments I’ve made ages ago but have been wearing too frequently to take pictures/blog about them” series.

I wanted an easy-to-wear summer dress so I used my trusted t-shirt block (with self-drafted/made-up cap sleeve adaption) and combined it with the Cake Tiramisu skirt. The neckline and sleeves are finished with bands. That simple, other than the meticulous pinning on every white stripe to get perfect seams. (The good thing about knit fabrics is that you can stretch the fabric slightly if your pattern matching while cutting wasn’t perfect.

turquoise chevron

As soon as I tried on this dress, pre-hemming, I knew it was going to be a favourite.  It is a fairly sturdy interlock knit made from 100% organic cotton and it is a really nice weight to wear; cotton is nice for the summer, it is heavy enough to cover lumps and bumps, and it was good with tights this week. It was £16 a metre which is more than I’d normally pay for fabric, but it is extra wide and holds shape well. When buying the fabric I had resisted the chosen aqua as a more subtle colour, but once I tried it on I knew I needed more, so that same day I ran down the road to get some more in the hot pink.

pink chevron

Two identical dresses would be a bit odd, so I went crazy and mixed things up a bit by adding a v-neck! I’ve never sewn a v-neck before, and annoyingly I can’t find the tutorial I used to help me get a nice centre-front; I did something similar to this and sewed a v-seam where the centre front would be, being careful to match the stripes on both sides. I sewed the centre front first on either side, then figured out how much I needed to stretch the neckband to work out where to place the centre-back seam; this gave me a v-neck with absolutely NO gaping which is pretty brilliant!pink detail

I also decided to cut 8 skirt panels instead of 4 to get a more zig-zaggy look (slightly inspired by the cover of Threads 161). I divided the skirt pattern pieces in half and drew a couple of new stripe lines on the new pattern piece, and I made sure these always matched up with the fabric during cutting. When marking stripes I draw a line (eg for the bottom of the white stripe) and then shade/mark below (for the pink) to be sure my line is in the right place of the stripe. The cutting was quite a tricky business on a single layer of fabric, but luckily this fabric could be used upside-down and on the reverse (does an interlock have a reverse?). Despite the hassle of arranging pattern pieces so particularly, I really prefer the effect of the zig-zags and love that I have created a new fabric by adding more seams.

swirly

 

 

I have worn both of these dresses a lot, and on consecutive days, and NOBODY has noticed that they are even similar! Is it just a keen-eyed sewist who would notice the similarities, or have I done too good a job of customising them?! I wore both of these as my cheat attempt to join in with One Week One Pattern.

*There was a nasty 24 hour bug going around (when I say nasty I mean I lost 2 kgs in 2 days) so if any parents of small kids are reading I beg you to make sure your kids don’t come back to school the day after they’ve been ill; I didn’t need to feel guilty about being away from my class as by the end of the day there were only 15 children in! (FYI children will tell teachers that they were sick in the morning but mummy made them come to school.) Annoyingly for me the 48 hours I must stay off work are the weekend.

Chic Cocktail Party

I hope lots of you will have heard of the lovely Sally of Charity Shop Chic‘s new and exciting pattern line Capital Chic Patterns. Sally has designed lots of modern garments for work and post-work cocktails. She has become a good friend this past year but had been working in secret on her pattern lines, with me unsuspecting that every time we met up she was wearing/testing a new design!

Sally offered me a free pattern to try (I’ll try my best to be objective in my review here) but sadly I’m just outside of her sizes. But that month’s Threads magazine had an article on grading so I thought I’d give it a go on some of her simpler patterns; I didn’t use the techniques in Threads but instead came up with my own easier method, which you can read about in my tutorial on Capital Chic Bellini Sew-along on Friday!
open collar

I made the Bellini blouse in a cotton lawn with a subtle contrast lace collar. It was the heat of summer and I knew I wanted a cool cotton blouse. I had the lace in my stash and went on a mission to find plain black fabric for the top, and then ran out as the pattern alterations meant my patterns were too wide to fit the fabric!

After enlarging the pattern to my high bust size I did my usual FBA, creating a horizontal bust dart, but looking at the pictures I probably need to ass a smidge more. When trying on the blouse the loose fit style was much too loose for me, so I took in very generous amounts at the side seams. The sleeves were also a bit snug, so I enlarged these a tiny bit and just sewed a rolled hem instead of binding. I’ve never sewn a rolled hem before but the instructions in the pattern were very clear and easy to follow. This made a really comfy shirt, with the perfect mix of smart and casual, but on future versions I’d have more buttons closer together (and not wear I tuck it in).blouse

I also made the Champagne skirt, in a textured digital floral print I picked up from the infamous Man Outside Sainsburys in Walthamstow market earlier in the year. It was my intention to enter it for Oonapalooza but I never got around to blogging it. I spent ages laying out the fabric before cutting it to get the best pattern matching, and I’m pretty pleased with the final result.champagne

I enlarged the pattern using the same tracing methods, including the flounce hem, and all pieces matched up after sewing; I didn’t mark the darts as I graded up, and instead just added them when I tried on the skirt. I fully lined the skirt, including the flounce, and attached them inside out at the hem, and used an exposed lace zipper on the back. I don’t normally wear fitted skirts so I had to think about how I was sitting and walking; this skirt is definitely not work-wear for me, but might be better in a stretch fabric.zipper