Summer dresses should BEE bold!

Marsha makes a statement with her summer dress!

The British summer is now finally upon us, and it’s time to wear those lovely summer dresses we’ve been making while we dream about the sun.

I love to stand out, it’s one thing that draws me to making my own clothes. It means I can be as loud as I wish and choose fabrics that represent me. 

When planning my blog post this month, I wanted a fun make that would help brighten the mood while we waited for the sun. I had seen this amazing Glow Lily Organic cotton jersey in black while looking for last month’s fabric and I just knew I would be making something with it in the future as its very me. I am obsessed with bees, but since the great British sewing bee, who isn’t in love with bees in the sewing world

I have been planning a Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress in jersey fabric for a while. I made the Bettine in woven fabric a while ago and it’s a great go to basic beginners’ pattern but I never see that as a draw back. I sew a pattern because I love the style and not if it’s at my sewing level. I find with every make, even on the easier patterns, you will learn something new. Either with techniques or with fitting issues or down to learning about a fabric. 

Bettine is a woven dress pattern for those that aren’t familiar with the pattern. Its relaxed style with the elastic waist casing, means it transfers to jersey fabric really well. I did my research before starting and read Tilly’s tips on turning Bettine into a jersey dress.

The only change in the pattern is the facings. I worked with jersey and instead of facing the bodice neckline, you make a neckband. Tilly’s blog gave the measurements for the neckband for each size but I already knew how to make my own if needed. When making a neckband you measure the length of the neck opening, you cut a 2 inch wide strip and use 75% of the neck opening as your length. This then gives you enough stretch to make your neckband fit nicely. When picking your fabric keep in mind the stretch and recovery, if your main fabric doesn’t have a 30 / 40% stretch and excellent recovery you will need to pick a contrasting fabric.

I followed the Bettine pattern, apart from the neckband. Tilly suggests you use the “Agnes” top pattern instructions for how to attach the neckband. I have made the Agnes before but I have used alternative methods from other patterns that I am more comfortable with so went with that method instead. I used 3/8” seam allowance for the band instead of 5/8” as I like my neckband a little wider. When stretching the band to fit the neckline, I mark the band with clips at the centre front and back and then again in-between those. This helps with stretching the band evenly. Then I mark the centre, front and back on the bodice with clips. I then find the middle point between those two markings. The easiest way to do this, is by bringing the centre and back markings together then the two outside ends are your in-between markings. Note that these markings will not be the shoulder seam. You have four even marks to match up with the neckband when stretching the neckband to fit. It’s a method that works really well for me and I find my neckbands turn out perfect using this method. 

I used my walking foot for the very first time on jersey fabric with this make. I had it set up from a previous project, and thought it would be a great time to give it a go. I top stitched my neckband with a twin needle and the walking foot and I must say this is my best neckband I have ever done. The only changes to the pattern I made were that I sized down from a size 4 in the bodice half to a 3 in the skirt pattern. I did this by tapering in at the hips. I made my woven Bettine in this sizing a while ago and thought I would see how the jersey would work. As it’s more relaxed, I feel that on my next jersey Bettine I could just make a plain size 3 as the bodice is a little roomy.



 

I had fun working out the placement of the bees because I didn’t want them to be the centre focus point due to their large scale. The floral pattern is what I wanted to use as my centre focus which I feel then allows the bees to blend in. I am very pleased with the overall outcome of this dress. I am already planning another but this fabric what can I say, I want it navy now. I also have my eyes on the other bee prints. I can see a burgundy bee Bettine with tights and boots working well in the winter. The drape on this fabric is lovely and it’s so soft to wear. It’s bold, bright and fun but that’s what summer is about.

I have my parents over from Australia at the moment, so I am off to go enjoy the sunshine with them while it lasts and hide my sewing room from my mum making sure my fabric stash doesn’t go walking into her suitcase.

Until next time, “Bee” bold and have fun with your fabric!

 

Steph’s Peasant dress

Steph shares with us her peasant dress project and why it's so important to her...

Over the last few years I have developed more of an affinity for trousers or leggings than dresses, largely due to my changing body shape, but the need for abdominal surgery very soon has made me realise i need more dresses in my life…

 

 

After years of pain and hideous symptoms I was recently diagnosed with Endometriosis of the womb and bowel, and at the end of July I will be having major surgery to remove my womb, ovaries and a small portion of my bowel. This means a lot of resting, recovering, and – much to my horror – no jeans or leggings for several weeks as they’ll rub on my scars and stitches. 

Now don’t get me wrong – i love dresses. Just not on me. I’m short and dumpy, and incredibly conscious of my legs and stomach, and there are only a few styles of dress that really suit me. A dress shopping trip left me feeling anxious, frumpy and deeply uncomfortable, so I knew the only way to solve this was with something me-made.

As I was glancing through Samantha Claridge Studio’s incredible array of fabrics (which is very much a regular pastime, even when I dont have a project in mind!) a beautiful pale blue viscose with a pink and white floral print caught my eye and I knew that it would be absolutely perfect for something light and floaty. I have always loved peasant dresses and tops, and they fit the bill for what I’d need post-surgery: empire line, nice and loose, and should be cool and comfortable in the summer heat.

Peasant dresses are actually fairly simple to make without a premade pattern, and i have seen many really lovely ones that are actually just made from 4 rectangles (2 large ones for the back and front, and 2 smaller ones for the sleeves). The magic ingredient to this dress is in fact basic elastic.

I used just plain white narrow elastic in the neckline and under the bust to draw in all the excess fabric and create a nice silhouette. I also added a bit of elastic in the sleeves to make them a little puffier at the top. The end result was the first dress I have actually loved and felt utterly comfortable wearing in YEARS. The fabric is so soft and feminine, and the big floaty sleeves give the dress that little bit extra drama. I loved it so much I even wore it to a friends wedding and I was very proud when people asked me where i got such a beautiful dress that i was able to say ‘I made it myself’.

Whilst this dress started out as a need for a post-surgery outfit, I think it will become a wardrobe staple of mine for quite some time to come. Who knows – maybe this might just be the start of a new love for wearing dresses. 

It’s a wrap!

Romy shares her gorgeous jersey dress project...

 
 
 
 
Hello again! I can’t believe we’re already at the Beginning of August! It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was trying to pick my project for May!  
 
 

 

 

 

As soon as I saw this fabric on Instagram, I knew I had to have some…

I loved the striking print with the beautiful flowers and bees (very on trend at the moment, it seems!) and thought it would work well with a pattern I recently decided I had to have, the Kielo Wrap Dress by Named Clothing (pictured on the left). This is one of those patterns that I’ve been seeing around blogs and Instagram for ages but haven’t really fancied making until recently. I thought that it wouldn’t suit my shape, but after seeing lots of examples on lots of body types, I realised that it’s a great one for curvy bodies as the waist tie enables you to decide how loose or fitted you want it.

So the fabric arrived and I definitely was not disappointed. It is stunning. And once again I forgot to get any pictures of the lovely parcel before it went in the wash and was then cut out. The fabric washed really nicely with no fading, and the print is nice and big so the details really stand out. I didn’t attempt to pattern match and as long as you don’t have a lot of seams or panels I don’t think you need to worry about it. The Kielo is great because it gives you a big expanse of fabric to show off large prints.
 
When cutting out I did check where the pieces were on the fabric to make I didn’t have any unfortunate print placement (I’ve made the mistake of beheading animals on fabric before now!) and am pleased with how it came out. The fabric is a lovely, medium weight jersey – not too drapey or too stiff, though it did make for a more structured Kielo than if you used a very draped jersey, but I liked how it turned out.
Sewing the fabric was a breeze. I used my overlocker for most of it, only using my sewing machine to twin needle the neck and hems. I didn’t interface the waist ties as the pattern calls for as it’s a thicker jersey, and I think it turned out ok, though you would definitely want to use interfacing on a lighter fabric. I did use the flexible seam tape to stabilise the neck and stop it stretching, although once you’ve ironed it on it has no stretch at all, so bear that in mind if you want that area on your garment to still have a bit of give. I had intended to cut the neck narrower than the pattern as I have quite narrow shoulders, but I forgot. It is a bit too wide and tends to gape so I might see if I can add a bra strap holder to keep the neckband sitting where I want it to. Next time I might try adding a neckband too to stop any gaping.
 
 

I decided to make the sleeved version of the Kielo which comes as a free add-on, as I wanted a more formal look. The pattern and tutorial on their website is pretty easy to follow, though next time I might try to use another top pattern that I know fits me well, just so I can avoid the wide neck problem again. I also shortened the dress as I thought this fabric might be too heavy for a maxi. I made a bit of a hash of shortening it so the hem is a bit wonky, but if you just cut straight across at the length you want that should work fine, I just overcomplicated things!

I was in love with my dress as soon as I tried it on, and wore it two days later to a job interview, which tells you how much I liked it! Sorry I don’t have more pictures; my phone helpfully deleted half the ones I took during an update so this is all I have, but you can see how gorgeous the fabric is which is the most important thing.
 
So that’s my second project finished, and onto the next! I’m hoping to try another pattern that’s new in my stash so watch this space!

Jersey Jumpsuit of dreams!

Rachel's jersey jumpsuit

 
For this project I chose this amazing organic cotton jersey in navy and orange from the Samantha Claridge Studio shop, as soon as I saw this fabric I knew immediately it would make an amazing jumpsuit. 
Through the #sewtogetherforsummer challenge I bagged myself a cheeky little discount off the Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit and decided these two were perfect together.
 
 
This jumpsuit has 2 versions, I decided to make the v neck version with the tie straps across the back. It has an elastic waist and hip pockets and a lovely wide leg which make these super comfy and flattering.  The bodice is fully lined and as I’m tall, I needed to lengthen both the bodice and the trousers, this is a normal adjustment for me with most patterns, this meant eeking out the pattern out of my 2.5m of fabric was a bit of a challenge but I got there! 
This beautiful fabric is incredibly soft and easy to handle and would be ideal for an adventurous beginner who wants to venture into the world of stretch fabrics. 
 
 
 

This is only the second Closet Case Pattern I have made and the instructions were super easy to follow, there is an interesting technique to create the lining for this bodice which I haven’t come across before but it works so well and gives you a bodice that feels so well constructed and supportive. I love how it looks, but think it would look great paired with a belt swell if you want to look a little more glam.

I am absolutely delighted with the result and can’t wait for more sunny days to be here so I can wear it!