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I Am Patterns Perle ruffle dress

One small benefit of being on lockdown and on a reduced income in our household like many others, is using this time to work through my fabric stash. I can’t really justify spending on fabric at the moment when I have a few pieces at home already.

Whilst rummaging through it last week, I found this lovely soft linen. I’ve had it so long I cannot remember where I bought it from, but I really wanted to use it to make a dress, especially as linen is so comfortable to wear during this warm spell that we are having at the moment.

The pattern that immediately sprung to mind was the I Am Patterns Perle. Isn’t it a pretty pattern? It’s one that I’ve had for a little while now, and luckily I had *just* enough fabric for it. How satisfying to have exactly the right amount of fabric with zero leftover!

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It’s a simple classic wrap dress with a belt tie and ruffles around the neckline/dress front edge and cuffs. I absolutely love this design.

It really is very simple to sew, and if you like gathering then this is a dream! I don’t, but I absolutely LOVE ruffles, so it’s a necessary evil! The most time consuming part of making the dress by far, is evenly gathering the ruffle piece that runs around the neckline and down the front edge of the dress. This strip is about 3.5 metres long (before gathering) and so I sectioned up the dress and the strip and gathered it up in sections to make sure they would be as even as possible. It was totally worth all the effort!

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I finished the edges of the ruffle pieces by using the rolled hem setting on my overlocker. Perhaps not the best thread colour match, maybe a tad too pale, but at times like these you’ve got to make do with what you’ve got, yes? The neat finish of the finished edge was just what I wanted, and I quite enjoyed using my over locker for something different than I usually use it for. For this finish I needed to lower the blade and use 3 threads rather than the usual 4.

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So that’s all well and good, but as this is the first time that I had sewn this pattern I needed to make a few adjustments for me which I will use the next time I make it. Take a deep breath – there are a few ..

Firstly, the sleeves were a little too wide at the cuff for my liking. Luckily I pinned these and tried on before sewing so I was able to taper the sleeve seam from the underarm to the cuff. Nothing major there. I might make them a little shorter next time too.

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I just love this dainty cuff.

The main problem that I found after sewing was the position of the belt ties. This is probably something to do with the fact that I am only 5’2″ but they were WAY too low for me. I understand that the design of the dress wants you to tie the dress with a ‘tucked’ look, but let me show you how low the position was on me ..

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The position of the waist ties needed to be raised by about 6 or 7 inches. Now ideally I would have shortened the pattern at some point above the position of the waist ties before cutting out, but as this was effectively my ‘toile’ it was too late. So to make it fit I had to take drastic measures. I cut off  both the belts and saved the longer belt piece to make a separate loose belt. I sewed up the small openings in the side seams where the original belt would have been threaded through and attached slim ribbons inside that tied the dress from the inside securely before the final wrap and belt. These stop the inside front of the dress from dropping down below the outside cross over, Does that make sense – you know the sort of ribbons you often find inside your dressing gown.

By raising the position of the ‘waistline’ it has meant that the ‘skirt’ section of the dress is very much longer now. Again factor in my height, but I kind of like this length anyway. This of course would have been easy to shorten if I had wanted to.

Whilst not ideal, it fixed the problem, and like I say, I will make adjustments to the pattern piece before cutting next time. The only small thing now is the edge of the front wrap ruffle on the ‘skirt’ where the belt was originally attached is slightly shaped, rather than hanging precisely vertically,  but this is barely noticeable and doesn’t bother me. You might be able to see that slightly shaped ruffle edge on the above mirror photo.

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To stop the v-neck from gaping, I sewed a short length of stitching along the row of existing stitching to keep this neatly in place. I can still pop this on over my head.  You could also use a press stud or something similar.

Necklace layering accessories are the gold mirror acrylic scissors from my shop  and gold roman coin necklace from Missoma.

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Last but not least, the finishing touch for any Lockdown sewing project, are these stunning ‘made in self-isewlation’ labels from the lovely Sally at Modista Sewing  who is selling these cuties with all profits donated to the National Emergencies Trust. She has already raised over £1000!

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I look forward to making more of these beautiful dresses in the future (when I can face all that gathering again)!

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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The Grace Skirt from Simple Sew

I have a few Simple Sew Patterns in my stash, but have never got around to making any of them up until now. I love a pleated skirt or dress, and have finally got around to making the skirt version of this pattern.

The Grace Dress and Skirts pattern  is a combination of dress tops and skirts that can be mixed together or simply made as a gathered or pleated skirt.

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Although I love a dress, I really wanted to make the pleated skirt as I have seen several versions online- especially on the lovely Becky @notes_from_the_sewing_room. Becky has made several stunning Grace Skirts and each time I see them it reminds me that I want one too!

I used a fantasic striped medium weight cotton, it almost has a kind of brushed texture – a bit like pyjamas brushed cotton – but not as soft. It has the perfect structure to hold the pleats and was an absolute bargain from Milton Keynes market last year some time. I still have some left and am hoping I have enough for a dress!

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I noticed that the back of the pattern envelope doesn’t give you the fabric requirements for the skirts only. Just the dresses. This didn’t matter to me, as I was using fabric from my stash that I had lots of, but might be disappointing if you were purchasing specifically for this pattern. I’m annoyed that I didn’t measure how much I used, but if you are unsure just lay the pattern pieces out on the floor and measure the length that you would need.

I also see that in the notions, the length of the skirt zip isn’t specified either, just the zip length needed for the dress. I have a bag of old recycled (ripped out of old clothes)! zips and just grabbed an 8 or 9″ that was the best match. It isn’t an invisible zipper, but that doesn’t matter to me.

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My teething problems with this pattern continued as I followed their method of inserting the in-seam pockets. I have never come across this method and didn’t get on with it. I unpicked and started again using the standard method that I always use. I decided to cut the stripes of the pocket in a vertical direction to save me from having to pattern match those stripes!

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Unfortunately the pocket placement is far too low for me, but to be fair this is a usual adjustment that I have to make – I don’t know why I didn’t check this before stitching. Tut tut.

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On the plus side, the design of the skirt is lovely. The pleats are really great and the fit on the waist is spot on. I wonder if the amount of ‘ poufiness’ that the pleats add to my hip width is a little unflattering on my pear shape, the jury is still out on that one. Anyhow, it is a skirt that I will wear in warm weather and cold.

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Is it even a new make if you haven’t had a swish in it?

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So, all in all, a few teething problems with this one, but nothing that couldn’t be sorted, and there’s no denying that there are some lovely versions of the skirts and dresses online.

Oh by the way, the red acrylic heart button necklace is available in my shop (also available in blue)! x

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A classic Linden Sweatshirt

I’m quite enjoying sewing through my stash at the moment, are you doing the same? If I’m honest, I just can’t afford new fabric at the moment, luckily I have a quite a few fabrics that will keep me going for a while.

One fabric that has been knocking around in my cupboard for a year or two is this wonderful lilac and brown wide striped knit. As with quite a few things that I have been sewing lately, this too was a great find from a fabric swap. I *think* I might have picked it up at the Sewing Weekender. Thank you to whoever donated it! The moment I saw it I always intended it to be a Linden.

The Linden Sweatshirt  from Grainline Studio is a classic pattern that most of us will be familiar with. I have made a couple of versions in the past which I wear a great deal around the house, and as they are on their last legs I thought it was about time that I made another. Also I don’t think I have ever written a blog post on this great pattern, so it’s about time.

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This image is from http://www.grainlinestudio.com

For those unfamiliar the pattern gives you the choice of two versions. View A is a classic sweatshirt with long sleeves and ribbing at the neckline, cuffs and hem. View B is slightly shorter in the body, it has short sleeves too and only requires ribbing at the neckband.

I made view A and didn’t use ribbing as I didn’t have any in my stash that was the right colour, so just went right ahead and used the main fabric as it had a nice amount of stretch in it. Due to the width of the stripes I was able to ‘fussy cut’ these pieces to make sure they were all solid brown.

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Talking about stripes, although the long side/arm seams are easy to stripe match, the curved shape of the sleeve head means that stripes along the armhole seam won’t often match. On this seam I always try to match at least one of the most prominent stripes and let the rest do what they want! In the case of my sweatshirt, I chose to match up one of the brown stripes. As it has turned out, that brown stripe is matched up perfectly along the bottom edge of the stripe, leaving a ‘step’ in the matching along the top edge. On reflection I perhaps should have matched up the top edge of the stripe for it to look a little better, but not to worry, I’m not going to lose sleep over it! What is your opinion on  pattern matching guys? ‘Team perfection’ or ‘Team whatever’?

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On a plus note, the back arm seams match wonderfully!! Ha! Maybe I should wear it backwards!

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The neckline is a soft scoop, and is a little wider than a lot of my rtw sweatshirts. I like the fit, but I have heard others mention that the neck opening is too wide for their liking.

I left the length of the sleeves as they were – which is something that I rarely do, as my arms aren’t very long. I like this length of sleeve on a cosy sweatshirt, and I also like the sleeve width – not too tight, not too loose.

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Lilac is still such a hot colour, and whilst it isn’t a shade that everybody can wear, I feel that the brown stripes are so complimentary. How could I not accessorize this top with my original lilac scissors necklace, available in my shop.

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So whilst it’s great to talk about all the new and exciting patterns out there, it’s also good to re-visit the oldies but goldies like this. Classic wardrobe staples that you can go back to time and time again are great aren’t they?

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x