Megan Dress (in crazy iris print!)

Iris-print Megan Dress

So almost 4 months ago I said I was ‘so excited!’ to make another Megan dress from Love at First Stitch. I’ve finally started it!

I’m not sure if I can call it a Megan dress though. I’ve used the Megan bodice, but I’ve added a waistband because I want to put a different skirt on it. I like dresses that are fuller on the bottom, I’m never usually comfortable in straighter dresses. I realize that as I’m sewing my own, I could make the bottom a different size to fit me better… but I just like volume on the bottom!

Speaking of volume, this fabric is turned up to 11! As I was cutting into it, it really hit me how crazy it is. I was wishing I had some solid black cotton to use for the waistband, but I don’t have much of a fabric stash, and solids? pfft, boring!

So, to define the band, I pulled out my box of vintage seam bindings and things, and found some ricrac in a grey-ish blue that is in some of the irises. I figured that if the whole dress is already crazy, why not pump up the crazy with some trim? I sewed the ricrac on to the band piece first, lining up a dip in the zigzag with the 5/8″ seam allowance. Then I sewed it to the bodice by stitching exactly along that line. Just the perfect amount of the little triangles show!

So for the skirt, I was originally thinking of using the Clemence pattern I drafted, and made up in cotton from the same line, but now I’m wondering about using the pleated skirt from the Lilou dress in Tilly’s book. I’ve seen a couple of those hacks on Pinterest, so I think it will work.

Last time I made Megan, the fit in the top wasn’t the best, and I was contemplating all these fancy edits and adjustments, but a couple friends talked me in to just making the next size up, which is what I’ve done here, I’ve made the 4 instead of the 3. It is hard to tell with no zip, so I guess I’ll find out.

Oh, did I mention I want to wear this on Thursday?

Clemence Self-Drafted Skirt

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I sewed a Clemence skirt from Love At First Stitch! This ‘pattern’ is not actually a pattern, but a guide on how to draft your own skirt pattern, based on your own measurements! Tilly made it a lovely and clear process. Luckily I had saved a couple old fold-out maps from the recycling bin, when I remembered that this was a pattern I wanted to try, so my pattern pieces are old maps of Vancouver, which is fun.

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I did a contrast waistband facing, and contrast pockets, just because I could. I had plenty of the blue patterned quilting cotton, but I also had some green scraps leftover from wedding projects (this green was fabric I used for leaves on our paper flowers).

I definitely wanted pockets, but I also wanted French seams, so I used this tutorial, and it worked wonderfully! It was a little bit magical to have everything line up and for there to be no raw edges anywhere.

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I was much happier with this invisible zip than the one in my Megan Dress muslin. The big difference? I bought an actual invisible zipper foot, I didn’t try to muddle on through with my plain zipper foot.

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I used quilting cotton, which actually gives the skirt and all those gathers a good bit of body. I have a lot of skirts this shape, because I think they suit me – I’m already bigger on the bottom, what’s a few more gathers? Pencil skirts make me uncomfy. The funny thing about this skirt though, is that it has so much body that it stands out and doesn’t touch the back of my thighs. Storebought skirts in this shape still at least brush the backs of my thighs when I walk, so I know the skirt is still down where it should be. Not feeling that while walking in this skirt had me obsessively checking that I hadn’t tucked it unto my underwear all day!

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Twirl!

Skirts are rectangles. Did you know this?!

Faux Fair Isle Margot PJs

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I went out the other day to a new-to-me fabric shop. It was a little silly that I’ve never been there before, as it is directly across from the Fabricland I always go to!

I was looking for a double needle for sewing knits (which I used, and loved! And then broke, all in one day.). I found the needle, then decided to browse the fabric selection: as with every fabric store in town that I’ve visited… their focus was quilting. Now I’m not against a good print, or even a crazy print, but I would like to expand my sewing experience with some different types of fabrics. Or even try sewing something in a lighter-weight cotton! But I browsed the store anyway, because I can still appreciate a good print. I wandered in to the flannel section, and saw this:

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Fair Isle flannel! Love! I immediately thought of a new pair of PJ pants, and thought I’d try out Tilly’s Margot Pyjamas from Love at First Stitch. I did a quick search on my phone, but couldn’t find anywhere online that listed the yardage needed, so I bought 2m, and that adorable green mushroom fat quarter, and went home. I had thought the mushrooms might make a cute pocket. (If you want your own faux-fair-isle-jimjams, you can find this same fabric for half the price I paid on fabric.com. There’s also a grey/black/red colourway, and some actual yarn and needles themed flannel too.)

When I laid out the fabric on my kitchen island to cut, I realized that the way it is printed, if I were to cut out the way you usually lay out fabric, the stripes would be running vertically up my legs. Beetlejuice-pants-style. No thanks. Also, the pattern actually calls for 2.5m of 45″ wide fabric.

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Fine! Fabric is threads running 90 degrees to each other, right? I just need to line up the grainline 90 degrees to where it would normally be! I checked, and this is correct  but you should let garments cut like this hang before hemming because it may stretch out more. Sadly, the fabric wasn’t wide enough for the pattern pieces. Even though I’m so short.

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I’m short, and stubborn, because I really wanted to make those pants, from that pattern. So I did what any fairly new sewist would do, and drafted myself a waistband pattern. The fat quarter wasn’t big enough, so I decided that the waistband would have the uppy-downy stripes, and the rest of the pants would be sideways stripes. I just traced off TIlly’s pattern, making sure to include a seam allowance on both the pant and band pieces (I used 3/8″ to preserve that tiny bit more fabric!), and then sewed all the bands on to all the leg pieces. Voila, like I’d cut it out of one piece anyway!

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The back leg is longer than the front leg, because the back leg has room for your bum. (The back leg is also wider than the front leg. I was worried I had cut my fronts & backs in two different sizes, until I noticed the bit where Tilly says that the bits may not match up,  you just have to line of up the raw edges and all will be well.) My new front leg piece, a few inches shorter because of the waistband, fit on the width of my fabric. My back leg piece did not. So I decided I’d use the mushroom fat quarter at the bottom. I didn’t feel up to figuring out where to attach it, and how much would show, and all that, so I cut out my legs (which were now different lengths) and figured I would put everything together as-is, leaving a couple inches of the bottom side-seams unsewn to make it easier to sew the cuff fabric in later. Not the easiest way to do it, but I wanted to focus on making sure the waistband issue was ok first. That, and I was harbouring a secret hope that because I’m so short, the shortened leg would actually work out to be the right length for me.

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I made a stripe-matching snafu because I’d picked a point and thought to myself “Right, line up the crotch of each piece with the green pointy line in the fabric, and we’re good.” Turns out, there are multiple green pointy lines in the fabric, and I chose a different one for the back leg, so my side-seams don’t match up.

The pattern was lovely, and I can see how easy it would be if you hadn’t added 8 more pieces of fabric to sew, like I did. I love the way the waistband folds in and makes the perfect little drawstring casing and opening. I have a large roll of that apple green grosgrain leftover from wedding crafts (still!), and it was just the right colour for a drawstring.

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Above I’m sewing down the waistband fold/drawstring channel. You can see the seam where horizontal meets vertical.

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All in all the pants are a little wonky, a little crazy, and so cozy. I could have thought more about adding the cuffs, so my stitching line would have been higher up, and not in the middle of the green, I’m counting these as a win over all. They were the perfect thing to be sewing as we had a September snowstorm (what was UP WITH THAT?!).

Do you love flannel PJs as much as I do? Especially handmade ones!

Love at First Stitch

Last month, P and I went on a trip to England. We did all sorts of fun things that maybe I’ll get around to talking about here some time, but one of my goals while I was there was to pick up Love at First Stitch, by Tilly Walnes.

I’d watched the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee on YouTube last year or whenever it came out, and thought she was just great. Then I heard she had a blog, so I added that to my Feedly list. Since I was following the blog now, I knew there was a book coming, and I was looking jealously at finished objects all over the web because it hasn’t been released in North America yet! That won’t happen until mid-October. But, as I was out there on a trip in June…. We stopped by the new Foyle’s flagship (which is a wonder unto itself) and I picked up a copy a few days before we left (hey, I wasn’t going to cart more books around than I needed to for 3 weeks!).

Now, I have sewn before. Most of the time, it ended in tears. The sewing machine I use was a Christmas gift when I was about 9. Mum was a big sewist, but I never really got into it – I wanted every other craft but. I even did some sewing in university – in class! Theatre degree, remember? You have to take at least some basic costume classes (the semester after that we nailed bits of wood together and practiced not cutting fingers off on the table saw in carpentry class).

I decided that maybe this summer was the summer I’d really do it, really sew things that I would actually wear. The book is so well laid out, that it walks you through from easy-peasy firstie projects to a hand-drafted skirt and a lined dress. I felt way too impatient, so I jumped in on the simpler dress in the book, Megan.

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I have fabric that I actually want this dress in, and some other fabric that I had earmarked ages ago for another project. I decided to use the leaf/frog print as my muslin, not only to test the fit, but to dust off the few rusty skills I have. The embarrassing thing about about the frog fabric? When I was writing this post, I flicked through the ‘Sewing’ archives on the blog and found I bought it in 2007. Jeez. The Irises are from last summer, so they’re almost new comparatively!

Anyway, blah blah blah I MADE A DRESS. IT FITS. IT HAS AN INVISIBLE ZIP. (DON’T LOOK TOO CLOSELY AT THE BUM. That end of the zip is hard to do).

Explorer Dress!

Explorer Dress!

Although I bought the fabric (7 years ago…) to make into a project to wear outside the house… I’m not sure I’ll wear this outside. It was a great practice piece, it made me so confident! I installed a zip! Setting in the sleeves was pretty easy! The more I worked with the fabric though, the more I kept thinking of hospital gown/scrubs. I think the slight texture, which is almost seersucker-y, reminded of of textured paper gowns or something? Or maybe that was the fact I kept trying it on before I put the zip on, so it was like one of those backless gowns.

I did the size 3, but traced out to the size 4 for my rear (my hips aren’t the problem, it’s all the butt!) and it fits mostly quite well.

My only issues are that the back neckline stands out a bit from my body, which I think I know how to fix. (I may make that adjustment in a bodice in this fabric again, just to test.) The cap sleeves are a little tight when I try to move my arms up, I can feel them starting to bind a bit even to type this (yes, I’m wearing it while writing. No, I’m not sitting in an ergonomically correct position. Yes, that might be contributing). That’s a problem I have with most non-stretchy ready-to-wear garments though – apparently I have giant muscle-y biceps?

The next dress will be neater because I’ve done it once before already (OMG), and the fabric is more conducive to ironing. The texture on this fabric flattens out when you iron it, so for the first little while I wasn’t pressing as much as I should’ve. When I made the choice partway through that I wouldn’t be wearing this outside the house, I got more liberal with the iron, not caring so much if I flattened bits of it out.

I am so excited to do version #2, and then so many more projects! I want to sew a whole wardrobe for myself! Do you sew? Have you ever considered it? It is so much faster than knitting – even taking it sloooow, this dress only took a week. I couldn’t knit this much fabric in a week!