Tuesday 27 October 2015

Bruyere - finally mine!

It took me almost a year from buying this pattern at the last SewBrum to actually get it sewn! I rediscovered my love of shirt dresses when I put my 2013 McCalls makes on (here and here). I had to have another one, or two, or three. Only one so far.

Fabric: Cotton print fabric that I bought from Goldhawk Road this year. I love fabric with flowers on it. I'm always in love with Ruths and Roisins makes and decided to finally make a flower dress for myself. I managed to cut the Bruyere from 1.5 m of fabric - at least I thought so. But discovered that I had missed the back facing, ups. There was no fabric left and so I used some white leftover cotton.

Pattern: Bruyere from Deer and Doe. I cut a size 36 for the bust, a 38 for the waist and a 40 for the hips. It was the first time that I cut a bigger size for the bust. I went to a proper Bra fitting and I can only recommend you go as well if you have the chance! I always bought 32B and the bra that fitted me best was 28/30 D (the shop keeper was raving about my very narrow back). I couldn't believe it.

 Cutting bigger bust sizes might also improve the fit of the clothes on my shoulders which I always struggle to fit right. For the Bruyere, I only did a forward shoulder adjustment and then crossed my fingers. I usually make a muslins, but as shirt dresses are not as snug I usually can get away with not fitting them. I also lengthened the shirt dress to size 46 because I'm not planning to wear it over trousers.

Constructions: As others have already commented, this pattern is for the advanced seamstress. There is not much detail and I was actually surprised by the lack of it. One of the challenging parts for me was to put in the sleeves. There seemed to be a lot of ease and I was wondering if they have to be gathered. But according to the internet I was the only one struggling. I unpicked the sleeves several times and managed to get them in with a minimal amount of puckers. Did anybody else experience problems with this step? Or was it just my lack of skill ;) Oh, I'm also not showing the plackets. Thankfully my fabric is patterned...

Fit: Not perfect yet. When wearing the shirt to work today I noticed the bust darts riding up which caused the build up of a fold over the bust. I'm not exactly sure why that is but I might try to move the bust dart down a bit because I thinks it is a bit high. For my next version I will also reduce the ease in the sleeves as they are a bit puffy. Other than that. I love it!

I had some trouble to style the dress. For the blog photos I was wearing it with purple tights. But tights are see through and so I didn't feel safe - especially because the fabric kept clinging to my bum and then riding up - any tips? Also what type/color of shoes would you combine with purple tights? I've worn the Bruyere with black leggings and a purple camisole today which felt much better.

Not my favorite photo, but the only one that shows the proportion of the shirt dress a bit better.
Lastly, thanks so much for your comments regarding my pink stripy dress last week. They are most welcome and I will review them coming spring. For now, the dress has been put to the back of the wardrobe and will be ignored :) PS: My sewing mojo seems to be back following a trip to Amsterdam - pictures to come -  and I'm merely sewing and embroidering. There is also some house hunting in the mix, but so far no success. Do you really need a sewing room? YES!

Friday 16 October 2015

Pink ZigZags!

Country Girl ;)
I actually planned to have more sewing time after all the wedding preparations were done. But no, we went straight into our next big adventure: house hunting! So that's how we spend most of our Saturdays - looking at other peoples houses. So far nothing has come along that both of us really like. That means more searching and less sewing.

But I've found some pictures that we took in August in which I wear the first dress I made after finishing my wedding dress. I wanted a quick no-fitting sewing project and thus made my third version of Simplicity 1803 (see versions one and two).

The fabric is a liberty copy print on cotton lawn. I bought it on Goldhawk Road and it is one of the first fabrics I ever bought. So it felt really good to finally use it. I tried to match the Zigzags as best as I could and am really happy with the result.

Sewing the dress was quick, but there was some fitting involved. I hadn't made the yoke version before and didn't anticipate any problems. But having pinned the yoke to the dress, the yoke was strangling me. So I had to take it apart (Does anybody enjoy to take out understitching on trimmed seams? No me neither) and then deepened the neckline curve by 1cm. I couldn't go deeper because then I wouldn't have been able to turn the yoke right side out. The fit is better now, but still not 100% comfortable.

Due to my square shoulders the yoke is not sitting smoothly. You can see the fabric bulging next to the armpit. I tried to handstitch the bulge down but couldn't get it to lay flat on the right side, buh.

Gathers at the front.
Other than that the dress came quickly together. I used my overlocker for the first time to gather a seam. Just amazing: so fast and even gathering. The good thing is that you don't need a special foot for it. So if you have an overlocker and haven't tried that feature yet, I can only recommend it!

Now the big question: Have I worn it? Yes I have, but not very often. The problem is that if I'm not standing straight and don't push my shoulders back, the yoke is bulging massively. See the evidence below. I've worn the dress with a pink boat-neck wool jumper. It is a really nice outfit but I don't like to wear wool on my skin. And also I'm in autumn mood which means I want to wear brown, orange or red colors.

I wonder how it would look like without the strap of the bag?! Probably worse.

Monday 21 September 2015

Honey Moon Sewing: The Bettine Dress.

Finally after 6 month of writing wedding dress posts and sewing on my wedding dress, I managed to sew a casual dress! It is the Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress! I finished it before we left for our honey moon and so I had the opportunity to get the photographs taken in Corfu, Greece - where we spent a fantastic time!

Pockets :)

I'm not sure what exactly the fabric is other than it most certainly contains polyester. It is very soft to the touch and draps nicely. That's why I have chosen it for this style of loose fitting dress. I can even wear the dress with tights and the fabric is not clinging!

I've cut a size 3 for the bodice and graded up to a size 4 at the hips. However, I always seem to forget that Tillys pattern are a bit short for me. So instead of hitting me over the knee the hem stops somewhere mid calf and makes sitting down rather awkward.

For my next version - and yes there will be one - I also have to add some width to the shoulders as they are a bit tight. This dress is actually the first dress where I managed to rip a seam. I was sitting in the car and bending down to pull the lever for the petrol lid when I heard a rip. The seams directly under my arm pit had ripped apart.

Here you can see that it is really a bit short on me.
For a quick fix I stitched several times over the weak spot in this version - and I'm careful how far I stretch my arms. So far it is holding up.

Other than this it is a very comfy dress that came quickly together. It was also the first time that I added elastic in a waistband and I'm happy with how it turned out! I have already layed out the fabric for version two and hopefully will find some time next weekend to sew it.

On other terms, I need some fall sewing inspiration. I somehow do not know what to sew next and have spent the last couple of weeks to find inspiration. But haven't been able to. It is really frustrating to have time to sew but not to know what to make. So tell me what are you making for your fall wardrobe and which colors are you choosing? Hopefully the spark will fly over to me!!!

Friday 4 September 2015

My Wedding Dress: The Big Reveal

Here is finally the moment you all have waited for. I'm going to share my wedding dress with you. As the pictures were taken on my actual wedding day (who would guess) it turned out I didn't have that many that really show of my dress or only show me without my blog-shy husband. So I did some cropping, but hope you will enjoy the photographs anyway.

There are no photographs without the bolero because I was wearing it the whole day. When I tried it on initially the lace felt a bit itchy and stiff but on the day I didn't feel uncomfortable in it. It also made the whole outfit look much more bridal.

My bouquet, as well as the buttonhole flowers for the men and the roses for my hair, were flown in from Germany. My mum brought them with her the day before the wedding and I think we were all a bit worried that they would get damaged or welt. The bouquet is vintage inspired and has three hydrangeas and some roses in it. The stems are wrapped in lace and bound with some ribbon.

Most photographs were taken from my right side and so it is difficult to actually see the flowers that I hand stitched to the left side. They were flowing down to the train.

My hair was braided on one side and then arranged to a curly bun. The roses were the same as in my husbands buttonhole flowers. 

Thanks again to everybody who encouraged me to keep the train. It felt amazing to have it swoosh behind me all day. I loved it so much I didn't take it up at all. The train has some grass stains on it but otherwise held up very well - no rips. I've given the dress to the dry cleaners already so fingers crossed they got the stains out.

I also made our ring cushion with the fabrics from my dress.

We had some gas filled heart shaped balloons that we released into the sky. They all carried well wishes from friends written on postcards with our address and stamps on it. If they are found, somebody might send them back to us. Lets see, so far none has arrived.

Our wedding day was an amazing day. Full of emotions, laughter and joy. It went so fast and if I wouldn't have the photos and wedding band on my finger I might doubt it actually happened. We are just back from an amazing honey moon in Corfu and live settles back into its usual routine. It means there will be time for me to sew and knit again and actually think about my autumn wardrobe. Have you started with your autumn sewing or are you still holding on to the last sunshine of summer?

Friday 31 July 2015

Wedding Dress Progress Part V: Hand sewing and Finishing up

I'm DONE!!! Yeah, I finished my wedding dress and lace bolero a month in advance and I'm veryyyy happy with the outcome. So today's post will be the last one before the big reveal on my wedding day :) I'm mostly showing you detail shots - enjoy.

First the zip: I was very afraid of sewing the zip, as I hadn't put in a lapped zip before. Add the chiffon and the thought you are sewing your wedding dress - welcome in my world! In the end I managed with the help of very good friend (thanks Thea) who stayed with me a whole Saturday and kept calming me down. We used the free Craftsy tutorial from Sunni (thanks for your recommendation Claire!) and followed it step by step. To stabilise the chiffon I used the thinnest fusible non-woven interfacing I had - I didn't want it to show on the outside. We basted all seams before stitching. I think the result is not bad :)

I hadn't pulled the zip up completely. So there is no gap in real life.

The bodice fits tight and I didn't want the whole strain to be on the zipper. Thus I stitched a bra clasp and hook into the dress. To do so, I bought a bra extender which I cut in half and then sewed to the lining on the inside of the dress with a zigzag stitch. On the pictures the lining is folded away from the chiffon:

I then hand stitched the lining to the zipper leaving a big gap where the bra extender is. To close the dress you have to first close the "bra" and then pull up the zipper. On the next photo on the right the hook part is protruding from the dress. The eye part is hidden between lining and chiffon on the left.

The straps were attached to the back bodice as one of the last steps. That means you can see them on the inside but I don't mind. Adding them last meant I could adjust the fit of the dress before hemming it. I sealed the end of the ribbon with some clear nail vanish. I was worried it would scratch but it doesn't.

I always wanted to have flowers on my dress. They had to be very delicate to match the chiffon. I found some embroidered mesh flowers on ebay. They came as a 4m long trim from China. The flowers have a little pearl in their center and although not from great quality look super nice.

I've handstitched them along the bust band on top of the ribbon and then they are flowing down one side and are all over the train.

There are about 100 of them and it took me almost 2 weeks to sew them on. I told myself to attach at least 10 each evening and it wouldn't be that bad. The most difficult part was to attach them to the bust band and not catching the lining.

The hem was the next difficult part. I only found the shoes to go with the dress a couple of days before the hem had to be done (thanks Thea). Again it took a whole afternoon, loads of tea and loads of standing on books to get it done. I can only recommend to put straps on their right position before starting to work on the hem!

A flower on the train.
because the chiffon and silk are so delicate I decided to go for a 2-thread rolled hem that I put in with my overlocker. The rolled hem of the chiffon is white as well and matches the flowers. The lining is about 0.5 cm shorter than the chiffon.

Next, I needed a bustle. There are several different types and I went for the simplest one as for the other styles the dress had not enough layers. In my case we attached ribbon to the hem of the chiffon and lining and then a little ring onto the lining at the height of my bum.

After the ceremony the train can be bound up by just threading the ribbon through the hook and tying it, voila. In case you wonder how I will prevent the ribbons from showing when the train is down: there will be a seam ripper at my wedding :) and it will be used to remove the basting from the ribbon. The ribbon will be basted to the seams - I haven't done that yet - it's only three ribbons.

To make the dress look a bit more bridal, I sewed a white lace cardigan. It's the pattern from Kwik Sew (K3400 - here is the link to my inspiration post). I made a muslin first and added some length to the bolero and removed some curve/fullness from the front panel.

I bought 1 meter of mesh lace from ebay and found a trim for finishing the raw seams at a local haberdashery. I was all positive about it and had no worries at all about sewing with lace. Then I read on the internet how difficult it is to sew lace especially mesh lace. I procrastinated a couple of weeks and then just plunged ahead.

It took me only one afternoon to finish the bolero and had no problems at all. I used my 1/4" (quilting) foot to sew the seams with a straight stitch at length setting 1.8. The advantage of this foot is that it has a small hole through which the needle goes (I don't have/ didn't need a special needle plate). To finish the seam I sewed a tiny zigzag stitch 1/8" away from the first stitching line and then cut the seam allowance away. What really helped to start sewing was to sew a couple of stitches on some scrap cotton and then start on the lace.

Final thoughts: You can't believe how relieved I am to have finished the wedding dress. I have been sewing it since April and spent almost every weekend on it. It was a very stressful and at times desperate journey. The wedding dress was all I could think about. I couldn't do anything else because I would have a bad conscience.
I am very happy with the end result - I have my dream dress - and I'm very proud of all my hard work, but I wouldn't do it again :) The groom to be summarised it with the following words: The last couple of month were all about the dress but not about the actual wedding.

I learned a lot when making the dress and so far it is the most advanced garment I have ever made. It is beautiful and I feel beautiful in it. So I can't wait to actually put it on and say yes :)

Thanks a lot for your support and know I have started to make every day clothes again (without having a bad conscience). So you can expect to see the usual pre-wedding dress stuff on this blog again.

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