Cap Sleeve Summer Dress

I went back to John Lewis a few weeks back to buy some of the Hemmingway Designs fabric which I had seen earlier in the year. At £20 a metre it was a bit of an extravagance. But when I got into the fabric department my head was turned by a range of fabrics produced for the John Lewis 150 year anniversary. The designs are all quite retro and by the fabric designer Lucienne Day who worked for John Lewis as a design consultant between 1962 and 1987.

Capped sleeve dress in John Lewis Lucienne Day fabric

 

Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation

The fabric I chose is ‘Symphony’ originally produced for Cavendish Textiles in 1954. I was thinking that £20 a metre was steep but this was £22. It’s 150cm wide so I bought 1.2mts with a sleeveless dress in mind. The fabric is 100% cotton with a bit more body than a quilting weight cotton.

Lucienne Day fabrics at John Lewis

Lucienne Day fabrics at John Lewis

The pattern I used is a self drafted fitted cap sleeve bodice. The skirt is just one full width of the fabric gathered onto the bodice.

When I came to cut out the pieces I spent ages faffing about. The pattern isn’t symmetrical and it doesn’t quite run in a straight line horizontally. So I just made sure the vertical lines were running correctly. I did have enough fabric to cut the back pieces so that I could pattern match the centre back. It sounds obvious but when doing this you need to match the stitching line and not the edge of the pattern, I’ve messed this up before by forgetting….

if you want to pattern match cut so the pattern matches at the stitching line and NOT the edge of the fabric

if you want to pattern match cut so the pattern matches at the stitching line and NOT the edge of the fabric

...so when the seam is closed with the zipper the pattern should match perfectly

…so when the seam is closed with the zipper the pattern should match perfectly

I self lined the bodice bagging it out completely. See the method I used in this post on self lining a bodice.

The bodice only has a waist dart for shaping and I ended up taking much more in than the pattern had allowed. After the sewing the dart and realising I needed to still take quite a bit in I put the bodice on inside out, pinned the back opening and then pinched out and pinned the extra amounts from the darts.

the red tacked line shows how much I needed to take in after a fitting

the red tacked line shows how much I needed to take in after a fitting

My original plan was to have side seam pockets. Then I was thinking that with 150cm the skirt wouldn’t be that full so I dropped the pocket idea and decided not to bother with side seams and just have one seam up the back. At the time when I was thinking about this the total of 6cm width of fabric gained from not having seam allowances at the sides was make or break to the fullness of the skirt……..

I tried the dress on before sewing up the back seam and adding the zipper and the lack of pockets stood out. So patch pockets went on. I didn’t have enough scraps to pattern match but I was able to match the vertical lines.

The back opening is an invisible zipper, reasonably successful, I only had to unpick one side once.

I hemmed the skirt of the dress before I added the skirt lining. I measured the length of lining required plus seam allowances for waist and hem. when I attached the skirt lining I pleated it matching the centre front and then stitched to the seam allowance at the waist. To finish the dress I hand stitched the lining down both sides of the zipper and around the waist seam.

The only seams on show were the back seams of the skirt and it’s lining. I neatened them by folding under a tiny bit and stitching.

centre back seam allowances of the skirt and cotton lawn lining

centre back seam allowances of the skirt and cotton lawn lining

The dress is lined in white cotton lawn which I bought on e-Bay from seller The Remnant Shop. £5.49 per metre, 150cm wide. I was really pleased with the quality of this lawn and would definitely recommend it.

We’re off to London later this week and it will get it’s first wearing on Thursday night.

Oh, and of course the skirt is plenty full enough but I think it was those 6cm that made all the difference…… 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Line A Sleeveless Bodice (otherwise known as ‘Bagging Out’)

The dress I am currently making has a bodice with a small grown on cap sleeve. To give the bodice a bit more body and to help with hiding the seams and avoid hemming the cap sleeve I have fully lined it completely bagging it out.

To start with sew the shoulder seams of both the outer and the lining. One good tip is to trim away a small amount, say 2mm, from the neck edge and the armhole edges of the lining. The lining will then be slightly smaller than the outer. This helps prevent the lining rolling to the right side.

Lay the outer and the lining on top of each other, right sides together. Sew the neck seam from centre back to centre back matching the shoulder seams and the centre front points.

start by stitching the neck seam and then sew both armholes

start by stitching the neck seam and then sew both armholes

Before I sew the armhole seams it’s best to understitch the lining of the neck seam. Trim the seam allowance and clip carefully into the curves. On the right side stitch the lining to the seam allowance close to the edge folding both the seam allowances towards the lining.

under stitching the seam allowance at the neck seam

under stitching the seam allowance at the neck seam

Next sew the armholes. Once you have sewn both the armholes pull the back bodice sections through the shoulders so the bodice is now the right way out and press the armhole seams.

pulling the back bodice sections through to the right side

pulling the back bodice sections through to the right side

press the armhole seams well before sewing the side seams

press the armhole seams well before sewing the side seams

The final step is sewing the side seams. Open up the bodice and pin the underarm points so they match together. Sew the seam from the waist of the lining past the armhole point to the waist of the main fabric.

pin the side seams carefully matching the underarm points

pin the side seams carefully matching the underarm points

Give the bodice a good press and you’re done!

side seams completed and bodice pressed

side seams completed and bodice pressed

The bodice is now ready to add the skirt of the dress.

I’m putting an invisible zipper into the back of this dress so I have left the centre back seams open. But if you were having a different type of fastening you can sew the centre back seams before you turn the bodice the right way through.

Drafting The Soft Pleat Skirt

To draft the pattern for the denim soft pleat skirt I made last week I started with the basic skirt block.

I have drafted my own from the Winifred Aldrich Metric Pattern Cutting book but blocks in standard sizes are available to buy either as actual patterns or downloads. I haven’t used these myself but I have seen these Laura Marsh blocks recommended.

To draft my patterns I use spot and cross paper that I buy on the roll from Eastman Staples. When I bought mine a couple of years ago I think I paid £30 for 100mts. The roll initially is a bit heavy and 100mts sounds a lot but I store it in the wardrobe and it doesn’t take up much space. I had been using the Hemline squared paper that you can buy in packets. I found it is too thick to trace through, it has creases which need to be ironed out and the sheets are never big enough! Also when you want to use quite a bit it can become expensive. Metre for metre buying a roll is more economical. You can also find it for sale in smaller quantities on Amazon or eBay.

After tracing the skirt block I added on my style lines.

traced skirt block with style lines added

traced skirt block with style lines added

waistband pattern pieces

waistband pattern pieces

front & back pattern pieces opened to allow for pleats

front & back pattern pieces opened to allow for pleats

I drew the shape of the pocket pattern pieces on to the front skirt and traced off. 3 pieces in total. I added a grain line before I traced off to ensure I kept the correct grain on the individual pieces

I drew the shape of the pocket pattern pieces on to the front skirt and traced off. 3 pieces in total. I added a grain line before I traced off to ensure I kept the correct grain on the individual pieces. After I made the toile I realised I needed to make the pocket wider and deeper. One thing to make sure is that your top corner piece in main fabric is deep enough so that the lower edge of it is well concealed into the pocket.

I only had enough fabric to use one width for the front and back skirt, 150cm in total so the width of my pleats were limited. I had bough 70cm of fabric thinking it would be plenty for what I wanted, as you can see it was quite a tight layout! I definitely needed to use a contrast fabric for the inner waistband and pocket bags.

70cm of fabric was cutting it a bit fine.

70cm of fabric was cutting it a bit fine.

On the left is my 'working pattern' and on the right is my traced off pattern

On the left is my ‘working pattern’ and on the right is my traced off pattern

Once the pattern was finished with added on seam allowances I re-traced it adding all the info needed.
pattern name
Size
Pattern piece name
Cutting information  (cut to fold / one pair / contrast / interfacing etc)
Grainline

I also notched the hip line on the front and back and placed a notch in the cb seam for the zipper opening.

Then put it in an A5 envelope, again with all details including yardage, pattern pieces and trims along with a front and back sketch.

Pattern envelope with details

Pattern envelope with details

A long, long time ago back in college we used to have to stencil all the info onto our patterns and envelopes, it must have taken ages but I do remember enjoying it 🙂

 

Self Drafted Soft Pleat Denim Skirt

During Me Made May it became obvious I was missing skirts from my me made wardrobe. I had in mind a silhouette of a knee length full skirt. The fabric is a soft denim that I bought from John Lewis at £16 per metre. The contrast is a quilting weight cotton that I had in my stash.

self draft denim skirt

I drafted a skirt to use the full 150cm width of fabric and managed to get it out of just 70cm of fabric. The waistband is a shaped yoke style and the skirt was pleated on. I added front pockets with a contrast pocket bag – I love making this style of pocket, I find it very satisfying!

top - adding the main fabric to the corners and sewing the front back to the main body, clipping the curves bottom - the pocket bag with French seams, finished pocket from the front

top – adding the main fabric to the corners and sewing the front back to the main body, clipping the curves
bottom – the pocket bag with French seams, finished pocket from the front

The skirt closes up the centre back with an invisible zipper. I bought the zipper for a £1 at the local Fancy Dress shop, it’s recycled as the lady who runs it does alterations. I forget that she also sells haberdashery and it’s an alternative to my usual hang out. I didn’t take the top stitching all the way to the zipper along the top edge as these areas were quite thick. Top stitching + thick seam allowances = dodgy stitches and broken needle, well for me anyway.

top stitching stops before the centre to avoid the thickness of the zip and seams

top stitching stops before the centre to avoid the thickness of the zip and seams

I went for contrast pale orange top stitching thread following all the tips I learnt when making a denim shirt last autumn.
Correct topstitching needle – check!
Get the tension right – check!
Use standard thread in the bobbin – check!

the fullness of the fabric is in two pleats either side of the centre front and centre back

the fullness of the fabric is in two pleats either side of the centre front and centre back

I also used the contrast fabric for the inner waistband, I hand stitched the bottom edge down with small slip stitches.

contrast inner waistband

contrast inner waistband

I stitched it up over 3 evenings this week and wore it to work today (that’s why it’s a bit creased in the photo). My only issue is that the waistband could have been closer fitting. I did make a toile and noticed this at the time but then forgot to do anything about it…doh! I did think about adjusting it before I faced the waistband but I would of had to unpick the top of the side seams and the top stitching before taking the waistband off and it all seemed too much. It’s not a bad fit at all, I’m just being over critical. I love the overall shape and I’m going to adjust the pattern so next time I get it right!

It’s a simple pattern to make from a skirt block, I’ll do a separate post about drafting.

 

 

 

 

 

Completed Short Row Heel Socks

I finally got round to the second sock in the pair that I started in early April. I was learning to do a short row heel. The heel of the first sock was just about OK but I could see that I needed to tighten up my tension as the stitches were a bit loose.

Regia Mix It Color yarn knitted up with a short row heel

Regia Mix It Color yarn knitted up with a short row heel

So when knitting the heel of the second sock I took extra care to keep the yarn tight and it’s worked. Take a look at the photo, you can see difference between the two heels. I did think about unravelling the first sock but in the end I stitched up any loose areas.

The sock on the left is the first sock, you can see along the diagonal line in the heel the stitches are a bit loose. The sock on the right is the second sock which looks much better

The sock on the left is the first sock, you can see along the diagonal line in the heel the stitches are a bit loose. The sock on the right is the second sock which looks much better

The yarn is Regia Mix It! Color , I just love the pattern it creates. What I like so much is that on the second sock there is no measuring, just follow the pattern of the first sock – well, as long as you remember to start the second sock in the same place in the yarn! The body is just stocking stitch with 10 rows of 1 x 1 rib for the cuff.

I used this tutorial from www.cometosilver.com for the instructions for knitting the short row heel. I really recommend this as the instructions are so clear with great photos for each step.

At the moment I’m favouring the short row heel over the heel flap and gusset method.

woolly socks, a bit warm for a sunny day in June!

woolly socks, a bit warm for a sunny day in June!

It’s not really woolly sock wearing weather (well today anyway, tomorrow could be a different story) so my feet were pretty warm taking the photo!
Hopefully we’ll have a good summer and I can get them out to wear in the autumn.