Saturday, 5 August 2017

Cross Front Maxi Dress

Many years ago, I bought myself a maxi dress at Target in Melbourne.  This was the most comfortable, easy to wear dress.  It's a stretch fabric with an empire waist crossover top, and a shirred skirt.  Over time, despite very careful handling, the neckline became a little stretched.  I made a tuck in the front to fix it, but it's not perfect. 

I like this dress so much, I decided to have a go at copying it.  I started by tracing off a front and back bodice pattern.  I didn't bother with the skirt as I just needed length and width measurements.

I then visited Chinatown and picked up some 150cm wide stretch fabric at the bargain price of $3 per metre.  I bought three metres just to be safe, and ended up having enough to make Samantha a dressing gown as well.

What does it look like on? Very nice, I think!

To make sure the neckline didn't sag and stretch, I carefully sewed a small channel around the edge, and threaded 1/4" elastic through it.  Overall I was quite happy with the fit of this make.  I think the cross-over panels are a little bit long, so I adjusted my pattern before starting on my next make.

Now that I'd tested my pattern, I popped into Chinatown again and bought another stretch fabric.  This one was $12 per metre.  I only bought two metres this time and had plenty for my dress - it helps to be short!

I'm happier with the fit of this dress, but I still think I can take out a bit more fabric from the cross-over panel.  I also messed up slightly with the join between the bodice and the skirt, and will add in an extra row of shirring above the join next time.  By not having a row of shirring above the join, the seam has stretched and gone a bit wavy.

Overall I'm very happy with my two dresses and they get a lot of wear.  I've already bought one more fabric for a fourth attempt.  Hopefully I'll get it perfect this time.

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Saturday, 29 July 2017

My Sorbetto Obsession

There's nothing better than a simple sleeveless cotton top in Singapore.  It's comfortable, goes well with shorts and always looks a bit neater than a t-shirt or singlet.  Collette Patterns have a free, downloadable pattern for a simple sleeveless top.  You can download your copy of the Sorbetto from their website.

Source - Collette Patterns

I made my first Sobetto back when we lived in London.  I used some white shirting I had leftover from Samantha's christening gown.  I wore that top to death every time we got warm weather. It was eventually so stained and ragged that I had to ditch it.  I decided to make myself a few more in different fabrics.  So far I have three which get a lot of wear.

This first one I made in a very fine Japanese lawn I bought at Spotlight.  Unfortunately, I slightly stretched out the neckline and armholes.

I made this one in a beautiful linen shirting I bought at Mustafa.  I used an improvisational pleating technique I saw on Birch Fabrics Blog.  The pleating does require a really good pressing, but I like the effect.

My final Sorbetto is made in white shirting from Mustafa with some pintucks down the centre front.  I started by removing the pleat from the front panel of the Sorbetto pattern.  I then decided it was much too difficult to work out the pintuck fabric requirements, cut the pattern then sew the pintucks.  Instead, I sewed the pintucks into the fabric, then cut out my pattern.  I'm sure this method is cheating, but it worked like a charm.

I love the simplicity of these tops and wear them all the time.  If you haven't tried out the Sorbetto pattern yet, I highly recommend it.
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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The Charlie Caftan

charlie caftan

A couple of weeks ago Karen from Did You Make That wrote a post about the making of her Charlie Caftan.

charlie caftan
Source - Did You Make That

I wasn't drawn to the pattern immediately as I didn't like the length of it or the fit of the bodice, but then I clicked on the link to the pattern and found this ...

charlie caftan
Source - Closet Case Files

I absolutely adore this longer version.  It also looks like the perfect dress for sticky Singapore weather.

Several months ago my mum was visiting me in Singapore.  We spent a few hours wandering around Arab Street and did a bit of shopping.  I spotted this lovely hand printed, Indian cotton fabric in Dilip Textiles.  They mostly sell tablecloths and cushion covers, but they also have a small selection of pre-cut fabric lengths.

charlie caftan

I had slightly less than 3m of fabric, and was able to cut a size 3 pattern.  I had to take about 1" off the length to fit it in, but as I'm rather short the length worked out perfectly!  The fabric is a soft, lightweight cotton (a bit heavier than a lawn).

While I love this fabric, I wouldn't recommend using geometric print.  I especially wouldn't recommend a hand-printed Indian cotton where the geometric pattern is slightly wonky.  It adds an unnecessary level of complexity in matching up that incredibly visible centre front seam.  That being said, I think the minor imperfections just add to the charm of this fabric.

There are a couple of tricky parts in the construction of this dress.  The first is getting a neatly aligned centre front seam.  I started by taking extra care when folding the fabric and placing the pattern piece.  Once the front panel was cut, I carefully staystiched the neckline to ensure I didn't stretch it out while I was working.  I then pinned the seam and checked the alignment.  It took several goes, but I eventually got it lined up perfectly.  I'm pleased I took the time to do this carefully, as it would have been horribly obvious if I'd got it wrong.

charlie caftan

Those of you with eagle eyes may have picked up that this isn't actually a perfectly aligned seam, as the pattern doesn't meet perfectly on the centre seam.  The only way I could have achieved perfect pattern matching would have been to take 2-3cm out of the gathered portion at the cutting stage, so that the repeating pattern met along the white dots in the centre of the star.  Personally, I quite like the way it worked out.

The second difficult step is the insertion of the "waistband" panel in the centre front.  I started by very carefully lining up my pattern piece so that I got a good placement of the star design in the fabric.  The pattern instructions for inserting the waistband are a little bit confusing.  Fortunately, Karen had shared her tips on how to complete this step, and it ended up being quite straightforward.  I drew the stitching lines on the back of waistband panel using my trusty Frixion pen.

charlie caftan

I then carefully pinned and sewed the waistband into the bodice using the markings as my stitching guide.  It resulted in a really neat waistband panel.  The rest of the instructions for the dress are really simple, and I had my Charlie Caftan completed in about three hours.

Here's the finished dress:

charlie caftan

I've worn it twice now, once on the weekend and once to work.  It is such a comfortable, beautiful dress.  I'm completely in love with it, and am definitely going to make another.
read more "The Charlie Caftan"