Sunday 26 April 2015

Me-Made-May '15!

I'm finally ready to participate in Me-Made-May! Here's my pledge:

I, Alice from Queen of Darts, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavour to wear one me-made garment at least 3 times per week for the duration of May 2015

This has been something that I've wanted to do for the last couple of years; however, some part of life/work always got in the way, and frankly I didn't think I could quite handle it all, or at the very least being able to enjoy following through with the pledge. This year I finally feel like I'm in the right place - sure, life is never simple (and it certainly isn't free from stress right now), but bring it on - I can't wait to be a part of this great challenge! 

Have a great week people! And I look forward to seeing all the wonderful Me-Made-May outfits shortly ;) 

Sunday 19 April 2015

TNT mash-up wedding guest dress

We seem to have hit the age now where there is a steady stream of weddings to attend each year. It's always lovely to see our friends tie the knot to their wonderful other halves, and it also gives me an excuse to sew up a little dress to wear (not that I need any excuses!). Remember the 2 wedding guest dresses I made last year? 1 and 2

We attended a fantastic wedding yesterday in Bristol, in glorious weather. The sun was shining, with not a trace of cloud in the sky. We celebrated the love of a couple who are clearly perfect for each other, caught up with friends and met new ones, ate delicious food and drank a little too much bubbly, and finished the day off with super fun Ceilidh dancing in the barn :D  

I wanted to make something special for the occasion, especially as the hubby was an usher for the wedding and did a reading, too, during the ceremony. Elisalex came to mind, but this time I wanted a less extravagant skirt - as lovely as the last version was, I think one tulip dress is quite enough for my wardrobe. What better pattern to team the Elisalex bodice with than McCalls 3830?     
Elisalex McCalls 3830 Floral Dress Mad Men

Elisalex McCalls 3830 Floral Dress Mad Men

The fabric I used was a beautiful floral stretch cotton purchased from C&H in Guildford, which reminded me of a dress Betty wore for an advert for Mad Men (picture below), and this was indeed what inspired me to mix and match two of my TNT patterns. I'm celebrating the return of the second half of the final season of Mad Men in my own way. Plus, what year would it be without me making a Betty-inspired garment
Elisalex McCalls 3830 Floral Dress Mad Men

You are probably aware of my obsession with stretch cotton fabrics by now - for me, these fabrics combine the most awesome qualities of being well-behaved/super easy to sew with, having vibrant prints and the ability to stretch, accommodating a filling wedding breakfast as well as a lot of ceilidh dancing! 

One of the main reasons I love the Elisalex pattern is the low neckline at the back.  
Elisalex McCalls 3830 Floral Dress Mad Men
In addition to the changes I made and construction notes from the last two versions, I made a couple more small changes:

1) This is the first time I made a short sleeves version - I chopped off quite a bit of length from the sleeve pattern, and hemmed the sleeves by hand with uneven running stitches. 

2) I didn't line the bodice this time, since the fabric is not see-through at all, which is hard to come by when it comes to medium weight white fabric. This was a relief, since I didn't have any stretch lining in my stash. What can I say, this fabric just keeps on giving! Instead, I finished the neckline with a pretty bias tape using my favourite method

Here are some sneaky peek photos for you: 

Elisalex McCalls 3830 Floral Dress Mad Men

Bias binding facing. I had this bias tape in my stash, but it was much too wide to be a facing, so I had to trim it down in half for this purpose. What a perfect match to the dress fabric, though?
Elisalex McCalls 3830 Floral Dress Mad Men neckline binding

Neckline on the outside:
Elisalex McCalls 3830 Floral Dress Mad Men Neckline
Back neckline with a sage green invisible zipper. I'm very proud of how well the waist seams are lining up! 
Elisalex McCalls 3830 Floral Dress Mad Men

 The dress hem, by hand with a blind catch stitch. 
Elisalex McCalls 3830 Floral Dress Mad Men Hem

So there you have it, yet another wedding guest dress! I absolutely adore this dress, and am so pleased with how it's turned out - I love the fabric, the shape, the comfort, and how well it's held up all day! I can't wait to wear it again! I enjoyed the process of sewing this little number, too. Mixing two of my TNT patterns is effortless - I'm happy with the fit of both in their own right, and adding them together is straight forward and very rewarding. 

How about you? Are you making any garments for special occasions this year? I have one more wedding to go to this year (unless any of our other friends feel spontaneous and have a last minute wedding before the year is out), which means one more special occasion dress to make. I think I'm going to attempt sewing with lace for that one! 

Sunday 12 April 2015

My finished Lottie blouses!

As promised, here are my completed Lottie blouses! I made two versions - the red one with a vintage crepe from 1920s, and another in a monochrome semi-sheer cotton voile, which was a piece that I bought a few years ago as a "coupon" from Paris!  

This is going to be short post, as having hosted the sew-along, there is really not much else to say other than to show you a few photos. 
Simple Sew Lottie Blouse Sew-along Red

Simple Sew Lottie Blouse Sew-along Red

Simple Sew Lottie Blouse Sew-along Monochrome

Simple Sew Lottie Blouse Sew-along Monochrome

That's it! I'm really happy with both, and think that both will make lovely work blouses, and would be perfect teamed up with trousers and skirts. 

Now I can't wait to see yours ;) 

Saturday 11 April 2015

Lottie Blouse Sew-along week 5 (final week!) - neck tie and hems

This is the final instalment of the Lottie Blouse sew-along, which means after today, you'll have a completely finished blouse! 

Today we will be tackling the neck tie and the hems. I have used a different method than the instructions for the neck tie - I'm inserting it more like a collar so that you won't have any unfinished seams hanging about, and there is minimal hand sewing involved. Sounds good, right?

The first thing to mention about the neck tie is that when you were cutting out, you may have cut the neck tie in more than 1 pieces as described in this post. If so, you will need to assemble the neck tie before we go ahead and attach it to the blouse. The neck tie is the only part where I have not used French seams -- my fabric isn't sheer and when sewn up the seams would be enclosed anyway within the neck tie, and I didn't want the bulk that the French seam could bring. I would advise that you judge this and decide whether you need to use a French seam based on whether the seams would show through on the right side. 

I had cut my neck tie in two pieces, so I need to join them together. As I'm doing a normal seam here, I have pinned the two pieces at the joint with right sides together. Sew along the seam with a 1cm seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance you factored in when you cut the pieces). Press seam allowance open. 

The next step is for everyone, whether you have split the neck tie in more than one pieces or not. We are going to mark the back section where the tie will be attached to the blouse. Still with me?  Let me see if I can explain this better with the help of some pictures. 

Fold your assembled neck tie widthwise in half at the centre back, with the pointy ends matching. For me, the centre back is where my seam was from the previous step. Measure from the centre back, and notch at approx. 28cm on one side (both layers). Note that 28cm was a little bit too wide for me, but I did cut a graded down size 6. Don't worry, as you can always fine tune this later on when you are pinning the tie to the blouse.  

Basically we will leave the back section of the neck tie between notches unsewn, so that later on we can use that opening to "sandwich" the blouse neckline in. 

Next, open the tie back up and fold it lengthwise this time. Again as I'm not using a French seam here, I am folding it with right sides together. Pin from the notches to the ends, leaving the part between notches open. Sew from notch to the ends, without backstitching when you get to the end. 

Tie a double knot by hand for a neat finish. 

Trim the seam allowance. 

Open up the middle, unsewn section, and turn in the seam allowance by 1cm on the unnotched edge. Press. 

Turn the tie right side out, and press. 

Next, we will attach the tie to the neckline. Pin the notched edge (without the pressed down seam allowance) to the neckline with the right sides together, starting from the centre back. Pin around until you get to the notches. As mentioned earlier, as it turned out the opening measured at 28cm on each side was a little too wide for me, so when I was pinning, I turned a small section of the tie wrong side out and rectified this by adding a couple more cm of stitching by machine. Do make sure you leave a bit of room to allow for the seam allowance and the bound neckline though. You could also leave this fine tuning until later on when we "stitch in the ditch". 

Sew as pinned, keeping pressed edge free. Backstitch at start and finish. You may find it helpful to use a walking foot here (see picture below with the hem), especially you are using drapy and mobile fabrics (my first experience with the walking foot here). You should end up with something like this:

Trim the seams and press seam allowance towards the tie (i.e. away from the blouse). Fold the pressed edge onto the inside of the blouse, overlapping the first stitch line slightly. Carefully pin on the outside in the "ditch", making sure you are catching all layers. Take care at both ends, making sure that they lie smoothly and cover the previously bound neckline well. There may be a cm or two where the neck tie is not sewn closed, and hanging loose from the neckline - this is not a problem. We can just slipstitch it closed or topstitch it by machine. 

Stitch slowly "in the ditch", over the previous stitching. I find it helpful to pull the neck tie slightly to reveal the stitching, whilst going very slowly on my machine for accuracy. At both ends here I machine sewed it all, since it was only a small section and my thread matches the fabric pretty well (and I was feeling lazy), but you may choose to slipstitch it by end if you want a more invisible look. 

Then all we need to do is a bit of hemming! We have the sleeves and the blouse hem to do, and for this I would definitely recommend a walking foot if you have one. Alternatively, depending on your fabric choice, you may wish to sew a narrow hem. Here's my experience with using a narrow hem foot. Of course you could also do it by hand,especially if you are using a delicate fabric. The choice is yours!

If you are doing this the old fashioned way, as I am, fold the hem in once (I used 1cm but you can decide based on your desired length), press, and then fold again, press. You can probably tell from the picture that I skipped the pressing (not my favourite part of sewing!), but I made up for it by using lots of pins. Stitch from the right side all around for all 3 hems.  

Give your garment a final press and you are done! Congratulations - you have made yourself a little Lottie! 

This is the end of the Lottie Blouse Sew-along -- I hope you have found the posts helpful, and I can't wait to see your makes! I'll take a few snaps of my versions this weekend and share them with you soon. In the meantime, enjoy your weekends wherever you are! 
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