Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My first Maxi Dress: Simplicity 3803

I long held back from making a maxi dress because I was afraid of looking completely swamped in one. But when my eye kept being caught by maxis while browsing pattern catalogues at Tissus Reine with my good friend Julie last June, I remembered Trena sported a maxi dress with success almost a year ago (Trena and I are about the same non-height). And I decided to give it a try.

I settled on Simplicity 3803 because I liked the shaped midriff (it isn't a mere rectangle as in so many dress-with-midriff-band patterns). This is a neat pattern, which provides you with a nicely finished inside, too (the bodice is fully lined).

I'm a bit disappointed you cannot see the lines better. You really can see the bodice shaping IRL, but the small floral print here gave the camera a hard time, I'm afraid.
This is another Liberty piece I bought at Shaukat on Old Brompton Road when I last was in London.
I wanted to add a ruffle at the bottom, as in view C, but I didn't have quite enough fabric - and I was determined to use this Liberty print.

Another reason I chose this pattern over others maxi dress patterns is that I found the keyhole opening in the back really classy. I loved Pirouette's version of this, and I'm a little disappointed mine doesn't show that well in the picture. Probably because I have a small back and I should have fitted the bodice back even more than I usually do? (I always go down two sizes in the back).
Hopefully it shows better when I'm wearing the dress in action, though, and moving in it, instead of pausing for a picture ;)
Oh, and I promise you the upper edges are actually even. Must have been the way I was standing in the picture.

I made this dress for a picnic I had with friends at the Buttes Chaumont late last June (just a couple of weeks before I left Paris). I figured a very long dress would be both pretty AND practical to sit down in the grass - and it was. Besides, the Liberty lawn gives the dress a fresh feel against the skin.

It's been 30-32°C here this week (mid to high 80s Fahrenheit), so you bet I'm still wearing summer dresses!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vogue 8571 - the Navy Floral Dress

Hello, hello, everyone!

Thank you for your warm welcome back to the blogosphere! I've missed you all. I've started visiting your blogs and I've been loving all the wonderful creations you've been up to! I still have a looong list to go through, though. :)

Welcome to my new commenters as well! It's always nice and encouraging to see that people enjoy this blog.

I've been obviously quite busy with my new job starting, but I had written a few pattern reviews beforehand, so I can still update this blog on what should finally be a more regular basis. (Oh, and some time I shall put my act together and do a massive update on Pattern Review, too... I've been terribly remiss at posting my reviews up there.)

Today, here is Vogue 8571, a cute and casual little knit dress.

I was into making an easy, lightweight dress to wear during the dog days of summer (temperatures here in Montpellier reach easily 35°C (95°F) and above during the July and August).
The pattern was quite new, but the fabric had been sleeping in my stash for a few years.
As expected from the pattern lines, the dress came together easily and quickly. The only trouble that needed fixing was that the dress wasn't fitted enough for my taste, so I took in 1.5 cm (5/8") at each side seams.

I purchased this pattern for its shirred bodice – and I found it interesting that the shirring was both at the front and at the back. I like the look of the slightly pouffy back contrasted with a close-fitting waist.
I don't think the dress was intended to be this close-fitting at the waist, but at 5' (154 cm) I'm too small to pull anything threatening to look even remotely tent-like.

As you can see, I used a contrasting fabric for the neck band, and I don't regret this choice. It gives the dress a crisper look in my opinion – a bit of an edge.

The only other change was the hem - I did a rolled hem on my serger.

Let me tell you, this has been worn and washed a whole lot over the past two months.

Have a good week, everyone!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Finally back online - and Butterick Retro 5032, the Glamorous Sheath

Hi everyone! I am finally back to the world of the living... yay!
Let's celebrate with a review, shall we?

Here's Butterick 5032, a sheath dress from 1952.

What drew me most to this pattern were the box pleats at the waist, a detail I'd long wanted to find in a pattern for a sheath dress. I also liked the waist seam, which made a difference from my usual princess-seamed or vertical-darted sheath dresses.

I was also hoping the square neckline and polka dots would help make the dress stand out from the usual crowd of "little black dresses". I was a little unsure of the square neckline at first – I don't think these are the most flattering of décolletés – but I guess it's good to stray from one's comfort zone every once in a while.

It may be a bit too long for my liking (and body type), and I'm considering taking the hem up an inch; then again the dress wasn't intended to be worn any shorter (the pattern shows an even longer hemline, but that would be a no-go with my short legs), so I'm undecided. What are your thoughts?
I kind of bought the necklace for the dress. I mean, I'd long been wanting a long string of pearls (coloured, to step up from/perky up/jazz up the « pearl necklace » cliché), and I'll definitely be wearing it with other outfits; but I was in the middle of making the dress when I happened upon this one at brocante/handmade fair nestled on a quay in the île Saint-Louis, and the two made perfect sense together in my mind.

My only regret is that I didn't have a black zipper at hand when I finished the dress, and it being a Sunday, the shops were closed. Hopefully it is not too conspicuous.

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fail Turned Favourite

Bonjour, bonjour ! :)

This tee-shirt is from NewLook 6470, and it is supposed to be a fail.

If you look at the pattern drawing (view D), the fit looks nothing like this. This top is supposed to hug the body. I surmise the knit fabric I used wasn't stable enough by a long run. This was a remnant from the bargain tables in front of Boeken's (same old favourite from my Amsterdam days).

When I tried on the top and saw how large (and indecent!) it was, I burst out laughing, and got ready to take it apart and start over with a smaller fit. Then I got to think that it might be cute to wear as an oversized top layered over a tank top.

The only problem was the armholes - way too wide and lanky. I remedied that by binding them with a stable black knit.

The single other alteration I did was to the front - I took the gathered side in at the top, to give the fabric a nicer drape. The initial version was really too droopy, even for a layered top.

The edges were hemmed on my coverstitch machine. I hadn't been able to take it to my previous flat in Paris, but this time my Dad secretly managed to fit it into the car before we drove South, and I had a lovely surprise upon unloading my stuff. :)

This was not what I had in mind at all, but it turns out I love this top, and I've been reaching for it time and again over the past two weeks when I want a casual look. I just feel - cute in it, even though I may look my age even less than usual.

This was the third time I used this pattern (the first two versions, view A and A/B, are here and there), and as you'll see shortly - I've used it twice more since! Using a pattern 5 times is a personal record - and to be honest, the envelope never even appealed to me (don't you guys agree the model looks decidedly dowdy?).

Have a good week, everyone! I just had the best weekend, and the week to come is bound to reflect all the good cheer.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Still no Internet

Hi everyone,
After 2 months I still don't have a connection at home... My service provider keeps messing up in various ways. This was supposed to take a week. I keep postponing posting because every day they are telling me it is just a matter of hours before I get a connection... I need the Internet for my work, too, so it's been a nightmare.

Now on the upside, being shut up from the online world means I've been sewing a lot. A lot!
I have a backlog of projects to share... Hopefully soon. I just don't feel like spending hours in a noisy café and on an unsecure Wifi connection to update my blog, but I've written up a few articles offline so they'll be going up as soon as I'm hooked up at home.

Things are good here and I am very excited with my new job. As for my new hometown - I am simply enamoured with it.

I hope this finds you all well and cheerful, and that the start of fall has been inspiring you in your creation. I miss you all!