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Fibre Mood Dolly.

It’s that time again – Fibre Mood 15 Magazine is out today, and I was lucky enough to take a peek at the patterns a few weeks ago and choose one to make and share with you *

As usual there is a great choice of patterns in the magazine – dresses, tops, trousers and skirts, but as always I was drawn towards the dresses and I eventually opted to make Dolly.

Dolly is a simple loose fitting A-line dress with elbow length puffed raglan sleeves (gathered at the cuff), and a gathered neckline with a statement bow to finish it off. The finished dress length is always your choice of course (as a dressmaker) and I cut this version the exact length of the pattern piece without alteration which you can see hits me just above the knee. I’m 5’2″ for reference. I think maybe I will lengthen the dress next time I make it by a couple of inches.

It also has pockets 🙂

As mentioned Dolly has a loose cut. My measurements put me into the ‘Small’ size band, but looking at the pattern measurements compared to mine, I decided to size down and cut a size XS as this would still give me plenty of room without the risk of swamping me. I’m so pleased that I did this as I feel the fit is just what I was after. My measurements are 34-29-38 btw.

Ever since I made my black Cassie dress last year I knew I wanted more black Summer dresses in my wardrobe. Something casual that I could pair with trainers or sandals and maybe a straw hat and bag. After ruling out anything in my stash, I came across this pretty cotton lawn swiss dot from Plush Addict. It’s fairly sheer, so I will wear it with a slip.

The dress was nice and quick to cut out and fairly easy to sew. Fibre Mood rate this as a 2/5 in terms of difficulty. The only part that I had to fiddle around with to get it right was the v-neck facing. I always feel nervous about snipping into a v-neck facing before turning it through as you really have to snip right up to the stitching to enable it to lay flat, and I never do it close enough first time. After a second teeny snip I turned it through again and a nice steamy press meant the v-neck lay flat without any puckers (well, maybe a teeny tiny one that nobody will notice on the black fabric, but that’s between you and me only)!

This pattern is sewn with a 1 cm seam allowance.

I like the length of the sleeves and that they are gathered into a sweet narrow cuff band. The opening of the cuff band was just right, and means that the sleeves don’t pull the whole dress up when reaching up for things!

I chose to style this dress with my latest necklace design – the Thimble Necklace, Veja trainers, old straw hat and an old bag from Matalan.

I love the width of the neck bow. I’m not sure that I like the placement of it though. It is attached to the neck opening just below where the neckline bias tape ends. I’m not sure I’m that keen of that placement as it sits below the neckline by approx 1 cm, rather than being a seamless extension of the neckline. Maybe next time I might raise the height of the neck ties. We’ll see.

The gathered neckline continues all the way around the back too.

Last but not least, I really wanted a straw had with black ribbon to complete this look. As I didn’t have one I decided to alter my trusty straw hat with brown ribbon by adding a length of black grosgrain ribbon over the top of the brown ribbon. This is held in place with a few stitches and can easily be removed when I want the original colour back! See the before and after below!

Same hat, different ribbon colour

I’m absolutely delighted with the Dolly. It fits the bill with the vibe that I was going for, and think it would be amazing in a chambray, gingham or seersucker too don’t you think?

* Disclaimer: I was kindly gifted my choice of the Dolly pattern by Fibre Mood to sew and share. As always my review is honest and all opinions are entirely my own. This post contains some affiliate links. This means that I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you click through and purchase something that I have linked to.  I only accept the free pattern from Fibre Mood when there is a design that I truly love. Thank you x

Thanks for dropping by. Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to keep up with everything that I am up to! x

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A classic Little Black Dress

Something that my handmade wardrobe is seriously lacking is a classic LBD.

Despite my usual preference of dresses with florals, bows, ties and ruffles, this time I wanted to make more of an elegant simple style with no frills.

I also wanted a dress that was quick to make and didn’t use much fabric.

The Pattydoo Marie seemed to fit the bill perfectly, and as I had only made this dress once before it was perhaps about time that I gave it another go.

The Pattydoo Marie dress is a very simple sleeveless dress pattern with a round neck, and princess seams at the front and back which form the most adorable pleats just below your waist. I wrote a blog about the first version that I made here back in August 2018, and whilst I loved lots about it, I didn’t enjoy the fact that it was sleeveless and disliked my fabric choice.

The Marie Dress from Pattydoo. Line drawing is from the Pattydoo website.

For this version I added short sleeves from another Pattydoo dress that I have (The Chloe dress), and this worked out perfectly. I feel much more comfortable in a garment with sleeves these days.

I also cut the hemline straight again, as I don’t think a shaped hem suits me.

So this is where things might get a teeny bit confusing. Stay with me. Pattydoo are a German pattern company, and unfortunately I don’t speak a word of German. When you visit their website you can click on an English version, but this only has a handful of patterns available on it, (and they are not ones that I want). This is not a problem though because most of the German patterns all have the most excellent sew-along videos which are easy to follow visually despite being spoken in German. The sew-along for the Marie dress is here.

I’ve been holding out for a sleeve add-on pack for the Marie dress but here’s the thing that I’ve just noticed on the Pattydoo site – they now make an Eliza Dress. This looks exactly like the Marie, but with sleeves! So it looks to me like instead of creating an add-on sleeve pattern for the Marie, they have just released pretty much the same pattern but with sleeve variations, and called it a different name. The pattern comes with 3 sleeve lengths. The only difference that I can see is that the Eliza has a straight hemline, whereas the Marie’s hemline is shaped. I can’t find a sew-along video for the Eliza dress, but I would just use the one for the Marie dress linked above and insert the sleeves before sewing up the side/underarm seams.

This is the Eliza Dress. Line drawings from the Pattydoo website.

By the way, did I mention that Pattydoo PDF’s are only 2.99 Euros!!

I used a black scuba (I can’t remember where from) for my dress, which of course holds the pleats at the waist beautifully. I think this dress would look pretty in a french terry or a ponte too, if scuba is not your vibe.

The dress front and back pattern pieces are quite an unusual shape, I don’t think that I have another dress that has a pattern shaped like this!

The neckline is just a simple ‘turn over and sew down’ although you could draft a neckline facing easily enough if that is your preferred method. I used a twin needle to finish the neckline, sleeves and hem.

Seaglass necklace from @lilypad_jewellery

As expected, black is the most difficult colour to photograph. I have done my best to show you the details where possible, but I’m pretty sure that now that I know that I can add sleeves to it, I will want to make more – in colours that will photograph more easily!

The back of the dress has the same princess lines as the front, which gives you the most lovely dress shape all the way around, and gives you a kind of tulip shape.

I’m not sure if you can tell, but there are no fastenings to this dress – it’s a good ol’ pull on and off over the head situation! Win win.

One last look at those pleats before I go …

What is your ‘go-to’ classic timeless dress pattern?

Take care, I’ll be back soon

Kathy x

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A Black Velvet By Hand London Anna Dress

Last week was the second Dressmakers Ball, held in my home city of Leicester. The event is wonderfully organised by the lovely Sarah and Freya from The Crafty Sew and So.

 

I didn’t attend the first Dressmakers Ball (which was held in 2017 I believe), but remember thinking how much fun it looked at the time. So when the ticket sale was announced last year, despite feeling a little nervous as I always do about social gatherings, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a ticket. I am so glad that I did.

Choosing the right dress took a great deal of deliberation. Despite having lots of ideas initially about fancy big petticoats (which I would love to go for another time), I kept on coming back to The Anna Dress from By Hand London.

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It’s a beautifully classic dress which can be made in a midi or maxi length, with kimono sleeves, double pleats below the bust and a great swishy panelled skirt featuring an optional thigh split. This was definitely the dress for me and when my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, this is the pattern that I asked for.

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My fabric choice was a rich black cotton velvet (no stretch). I mean, everybody needs a little black dress in their lives don’t they? This is the first time that I have sewn with velvet and so I was careful to read up as many blogs and articles about sewing with velvet that I could find before cutting into this precious fabric. Before I did this, I also made up a quick toile, and I absolutely loved it! I was slightly concerned that the high neckline might be too high and unflattering on me, but quite the opposite – I really loved how the neckline looked.

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When I made the toile, I found that I had a gaping back neckline. Not to worry though, By Hand London have got your back. On their website there are sew-alongs for the patterns and I had read on the Anna sew-along that this is a common problem with this dress. There are a couple of different ways that I could correct this when making my velvet version and I opted to head on over (using their link) to a great blog post from Ginger Makes which tells you how to adapt your back bodice and back facing so that you completely remove any cheeky gaping at the back neckline. It worked a treat, and was really simple! I needed to alter my neckline by 1.5cm.

So briefly some of the things that I did when cutting and sewing my dress. I made sure that I decided which way I wanted the nap of the fabric to run and made sure that all my pattern pieces were cut in the same direction.  I also cut it out in a single layer on the hall floor as this is a nice big tiled space that I could lay out my fabric without it hanging over a table and pulling and stretching the fabric. The fact that it is a tiled floor turns out to be very important to me too, as let me tell you, velvet sheds A LOT of fluff. It was everywhere. I actually read to keep the vacuum cleaner to hand when you are cutting and this was a great tip! I used a fresh blade on my rotary cutter. In fact – I bought a new rotary cutter as mine has been terrible for a long time, but a new blade is really important – I did use a cutting mat too! A walking foot was crucial I think, and after testing on a scrap of velvet to see that it wouldn’t flatten the pile, I decided to use a longer stitch length than normal too ( I think I used stitch length 3).

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Although it was slightly tricky to sew with, and made a fluffy mess everywhere, it turned out really great in the end. I wasn’t sure if the invisible zip would be possible with the velvet as I had concerns that the pile would get caught in the zip, but I still went with it and just didn’t sew the zip in as close to the teeth as I normally would and it was fine.

The length of the skirt was always going to be long for me (I’m only 5’2″), so I shortened the pattern pieces by 10″ before cutting out. I also lined the skirt. I wasn’t going to, but didn’t realise how much static there would be in this fabric so luckily I had some black lining in my stash to do this. I will admit that I didn’t really have quite enough, so the lining is a few inches shorter than the hem, but never mind.

I went for an ankle-grazing length in the end, as I absolutely love my animal print sandals and wanted these to be seen. The thigh split is optional too, but, well, who could resist.

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The Dressmakers Ball itself was incredible, and I will leave this blog purely as a dress review because I know there are already lots of vlogs and blogs with all the details of the Ball itself. I would like to give a big shout out to my two best sewing buddies though for making the night so special. Kate and Vena had me crying with laughter all night, they truly are the best!

It was such a thrill to bump into so many sewing friends, some that I had met before and some that I was excited to meet for the first time. It was quite overwhelming to see everybody in all their stunning dresses enjoying themselves dancing and chatting, it was a night to remember. The photo below is of myself, Kate and Vena taken by a lovely professional photographer, Tara, who was busy all night snapping away!

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I couldn’t resist wearing my acrylic scissors necklace from my shop. It’s such a fun necklace and I was made up to see so many others wearing theirs!

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To sum up, I can see lots more Anna Dresses in my life. The panelled skirt is such fun to sew and the flattering bust pleats and fitted bodice is so pretty. I love it!

I spotted several other Anna Dresses at the ball, it was a popular pattern and I can see why. Dress it up in velvet or silk, or make it as a pretty day time dress – you choose.

Ooh I nearly forgot, to use up some of the leftover velvet, I decided to make a little zipper clutch to match my dress. I used the Pleated Zipper Pouch online tutorial from The Stitch Sisters (which was a pattern that was gifted to me), and whilst it was made using the most inappropriate fabric for this pattern (this pattern calls for nice crisp woven fabrics), it still came out pretty well I think. I also used a small amount of animal print cotton sateen purchased from the lovely Sarah at Like Sew Amazing. It kind of matched my shoes!

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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