Liberty Wool Hawthorn (aka. My New Favourite Dress)

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This is the most recently completed garment from my epic photo-shoot (just one more garment to show you!) but it is also the most worn item. I took my time making this version of the Hawthorn dress so I would do the fabric justice – introducing my first Liberty dress! The fabric is a lovely printed wool blend from Classic Textiles in Goldhawk Road (£12 or 15 per metre!) and is lined in fuscia silk-cotton (again from Classic Textiles for an amazing £4 per metre – I’m never buying pricey poly-linings again!) so at over £40 for the dress this is one of my pricier makes (luckily I found some cheapish buttons I liked, instead of spending £2 a button on the super fancy ones!).

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liberty 2The bodice looks a little odd here, but it is a great fit in real life since this is the fourth real-fabric version of I have made now. It is slim fitting around the waist but there is enough comfort ease to feel great wearing it. Construction was pretty similar to the dotty version, except I lined the bodice and sleeves which eliminated some of the facings. You can just see a bit of pink showing through, but I promise I did hand-stitch the lining down around the collar.

liberty 5People in real life commented that the dotty dress was a bit loose around the waist (before blog photos) so on this version I took the side seams in on the bodice. I forgot to allow for this on the skirt pieces, so I just made a little pleat centre back, which I quite like.

liberty 3It took me ages to choose buttons that would compliment the luxurious Liberty wool but that were affordable to buy 15 of! In the end I chose these clover-shaped pearl-effect buttons – they are a little bit more interesting than regular round “pearl” buttons, but I think they work well with the print and dress design.

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I added two buttonholes to the sleeve cuffs (have I mentioned how much I LOVE the sleeve placket instructions? So effective and so neat!) for a bit of extra flair. My only big “mistake” making this was sewing the plackets on the sleeves flat (as in instructions) and then inserting the lining once the shell and lining were complete; this meant I had to hand sew the sleeve lining right next to the placket. It looks good but I wish I had worked how to do this by machine (treat the sleeves as underlining for this step?). I also sewed half the skirt sides up before I remembered I was adding pockets, which added some extra time, but definitely worth it for a winter dress with pockets for tissues and lipbalm.

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Finally, I hand-sewed the hem. Yup, I sewed a full skirt by hand over a few hours instead of doing damage by machine (just like fixing the bodice lining to the main dress). I don’t have pictures but should also add that the entire dress is French seamed (except for parts hidden by lining). Karen’s Mistress of the Jar will be proud!liberty 4

The extra time (and money) spent on this dress was definitely worth it; I feel so great wearing it 🙂 It is flattering, comfy and cosy, with enough pattern to make it exciting but subtle enough for everyday. It is definitely going on my Top 5 Hit list tomorrow!

Parisian Polka-dot Hawthorn

Hello my lovely readers! You are in for a treat this week; I was at home during the day at the weekend and got my tripod and camera out and took not one set of blog photos, but five! Yup, I had a big photo shoot session and finally got pictures of some past makes.

I am really desperate to show you my New Favourite Dress, however I’ll start in chronological order with my first Hawthorn dress.dotty 4

The pattern and fabric were both birthday presents in the summer; the fabric came from Paris via my step-mum and is a gorgeous turquoise covered with polka-dots. I had originally thought I’d make an Elisalex dress with it, but when I struggled to find a zipper that came close to matching, it became destined to be a Hawthorn shirt dress.

dotty 1

I made a blouse and my bowling shirt before making this which gave me time to sort out the fitting and finishing details. I did my usual FBA, changing the dart into diagonal French darts, and got rid of some of the facings in favour of using bias binding. During my first wearing I realised there was a tad too much waist ease, so I took in the side seams a bit; it’s not a perfect adjustment but it’ll do.

dotty 2

This would have become a favourite dress if it wasn’t for the dye. I pre-washed the fabric before sewing, and have washed it a few times, but the turquoise is a really strong colour and keeps rubbing off on everything! My sewing machine turned blue during sewing, and when I wore it my arms and my slip underneath turned turquoise. Eek. After more washing, the colour transfer isn’t as bad, but you can see under the arms where the white spots have turned blue.

I was trying to get festive with some Christmas tunes while taking all these photos so here is a dancing-twirly picture.

dotty 3

Summer(?) strawberry shirt-dress

We have finally got some sunshine here in the UK, so I finally felt inspired to sew my Lisette Traveller dress. I bought the fabric from Goldhawk Road during the Easter holidays, but then the weather has been pretty gloomy since so I have been making separates that can be worn with warm trousers.

I made a couple of quite a few changes to the pattern:
1. The compulsory FBA, but this time using the Y method in Fit for Real People (for “if you need to add more that 1 1/2″ to the bust” – really should have looked at that ages ago!) and lowered the dart. It may be the style of the shirt, but the shoulders feel so much better without risk of sloping off (like the Sorbettos I made last week) so I might have to go and adjust my previous adjustments. The bust fit is pretty spot on
2. I added a small dart at the back centre back. I want to say this was deliberate, but I accidentally damaged the fabric, however the fit is great.
3. I added inseam pockets. I normally use pockets from my Vogue birdie/polka dot skirt, but I couldn’t be bothered to search through my patterns and drafted my own. They are a bit snug, but will hopefully be functional without allowing me to look too casual.
4. The sleeves from the pattern were much too fitted for my chunky biceps (caused by too much swimming of course!) so I made one up my self using the modified Sorbetto sleeve for reference. Despite warning bells in my head I was determined to pipe the edge, but it was way too stiff so I did some pinning and tucks and I think it looks alright now.
5. Since my fabric was white on the inside, I made some little facings from oddly-shaped rectangles so that when the collar is open you can’t see the wrong side of the fabric.

While I was having a mid-sewing break, I saw that Scruffy Badger has also made a Traveller dress but without any piping for once, so it is a good job I had metres of piping for the job. I do love the piping (and how neatly I did it around the curves of the collar) but combined with the print I am getting a very retro-vibe and not quite the everyday-dress I was planning for. I’m not sure how I thought strawberries would be everyday (maybe the navy), but it isn’t!

After I finished tissue-fitting the pattern, this was quick and easy to sew up (if you ignore the double time it took to do the piping and the trouble making a button hole exactly where the bodice and skirt meet!) so I will definitely be making another one, but with different sleeves and maybe a different neckline. I can imagine throwing this on in the summer and being ready to go anywhere.

Any suggestions for fabric to make a great everyday basic? Maybe a lightweight denim for the weekend/holidays but what would be good for the classroom?

Hope everyone has been enjoying the sunshine 🙂

p.s. I have added lots of new blogs to my google reader account and discovered a link to this great gadget for ironing hems (I can’t remember who had linked to it, but thanks for highlighting a great tool). I hate ironing and I hate hems and this made it so much simpler and was easier than drawing my own. The geek in me would love to know how the curved line works for all sizes of curves!