A quest and a question

Got my questing face on…

THE QUEST

I’ve spoken before about my love of shirt dresses and the quest for the ultimate shirt dress pattern of joy.

The Sew Over It shirt dress had been on my radar for a while ever since the first SewBrum I went to where Gabby was wearing a fabulous contrast shirt dress.

I actually bought the pattern in the middle of last year but it has languished in my stash pile for a while whilst I searched for just the right fabric to do it justice. It took surprisingly longer than expected, but I think (I hope?) you’ll agree with me that the wait was worth it!

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Time pressures? What time pressures?

New Year’s Eve is a strange thing; for some people there’s nothing they like more than staying out into the wee small hours, giddy and drunk on the promise of a new year, whilst for others they couldn’t care less and are happily tucked up in bed like on most other nights of the year.

I am not one of the latter people.

And as one of those who like a good party on NYE, I also like to have a fancy dress to wear.

This year (16 into 17) I was thinking about my dress for months. Not on purpose. It was more that I had a vision in my head of the perfect dress that I wanted to make but no opportunity to wear it. A leopard print wiggle dress. Outrageous but, for NYE, just outrageous enough.

I found a pattern, I found some amazing leopard print scuba in Dalston, I was away.

And then, at 4:30pm on New Year’s Eve I actually tried on the dress (I’d not had a chance to before then because of various Christmas crafting projects and Christmas being social projects).

It was a disaster. Not unsalvageable. But certainly not something that could be sorted before heading out to a party.

I had less than two and a half hours before we headed out, and I needed to eat in that time. It would have been madness to try and make something new in that time, right?

Right.

I did it anyway…..


What is it?

A slash neck dress with a three quarter circle skirt.

Is it blue?

No, but it is a turquoisey green which can sometimes count….

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

A gorgeous African wax print that I bought from the rag market during Sew Brum.

What’s the pattern?

The By Hand London Anna dress with the three quarter circle skirt I drafted for my Christmas dress

What was good about making this?

Erm, getting it done in two hours (allowing for the break for dinner)? I cut the fabric out not really sure if I would actually manage to get it done in time, so getting it all sorted felt pretty good. Plus, in amongst the mild mania of the creation, I managed to get a neat pattern match on the bodice back and I’m really pleased with the pattern placement of the yellow spiral on the bodice.

Would you look at the pattern placement on that….

What was bad about making this?

I did feel pretty rude when our friends turned up for pre-drinks and I went “can’t talk, got to hem!”. They all went and played some weird game about Vikings (so weird, a half hour of googling can’t find it…) with the boy instead. To be honest, based on the sounds of confusion they were making, I’m not sure who got the worst deal there….

SWOOOOOOSH

Would you make it again?

I would. I’m smitten with this dress and have worn it a couple of times already in the last month. It swooshes ever so nicely and is dressy without feeling over the top.

Although next time, I might try to take my time with it.

x

(Cotton) diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Reader, I have a confession. I have become a bit obsessed by African wax print.

It started out innocently enough; I noticed on Instagram that some bloggers (particularly Roisin and Vicky) were posting up dresses made from super vibrant bold patterned fabric. Something about the vibrancy sparked an affection for the fabric, but it wasn’t something I saw when physically fabric shopping so I watched from afar.

Then I started to see wax cotton on my rounds of the rag market, and realised how well priced it is. The affection strengthened, moving into an attraction. I even bought a piece, relatively subdued in pattern as it was, and used it for my Colette Rue, marvelling at how workable the fabric was.

The attraction morphed further.

Things came to a head towards the end of September. In my day job, I work predominantly from home, but when I’m in London I work out of an office that’s based in Rich Mix.

Which is a ten minute walk from Middlesex Street, one of the hubs of wax print in London.

Which I then discovered having not previously realised it.

Faced with overwhelming choice and a serious heap of desire I caved, and came back two wonderfully joyful outrageous pieces of fabric. The obsession was fixed…

 

What is it?

A strappy summer dress with a princess seam bodice and gathered skirt.

Is it blue?

Some of the panels are blue, as are the lines that connect the little roundels.

My house is on Bank Street. Cue obligatory ridiculous posing….

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

An amazing piece of African wax cotton from Middlesex Street. I think I bought it in Good Luck Textiles, but, based on the number of stores in the area, you could into any of them and have a blast.

What’s the pattern?

I used the By Hand London Charlie dress, using a gathered skirt rather than a circle skirt, as per the strawberry dress.

What was good about making this?

How truly wonderfully vibrant it is. I did some pattern matching on the bodice that seemed to actually work (a feat for me….), and I also liked the pattern placement that I did with the roundels central on the bodice.
It came together relatively quickly and felt like a fun thing to sew, probably based on the happiness of the pattern.

What was bad about making this?

I spent a while wondering about the skirt length, and, although I ended up going for the shorter length, still wonder if I made the right decision and should have stuck with midi length (although it’s definitely too late for that now….). I also had worries that I wouldn’t actually wear the dress because it’s that bit more vibrant than my usual makes. I shouldn’t have though, as it was amazing to wear and, even if it ends up being mainly a summer holiday dress, it is still wonderful.


Would you make it again?

I do really like the Charlie pattern, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I made another. I also have a lot of fabric left (pretty standard where wax cotton is concerned as it comes in 6 yard chunks) so I may well make a skirt in the same fabric that might, possibly, be a way to wear the print more regularly.

x

One dress to Rue them all

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A while ago, Colette Patterns put a call out for pattern testers. I signed up, assuming that they’d get hundreds of responses and that I didn’t stand a chance. To my surprise, they asked me to take part in testing their newest pattern, the Rue dress.

I was pretty excited if I’m honest, and, when they revealed that it would be released on my birthday I knew what had to be done; it was time to make my birthday dress.

What is it?

A capped sleeved dress, with curved style lines on the bodice and a pleated knee length skirt.

Is it blue?

Yup yup!

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Just out of shot: a champagne saucer filled with prosecco.
Well it was my birthday!

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

The fabric is an African wax cotton print that I found in the rag market (at the man who sells Liberty’s stall to be precise). The lining material was Monaco anti-static lining from Guthrie and Ghani in a lovely silvery grey.

What’s the pattern?

Why the Colette Rue of course!

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What was good about making this?

Aside from the excitement of getting a sneaky peek at a brand new design, there were a couple of good things about this.

I love the style lines on the bodice and was pleased with the way that I was able to rotate my pieces to make the most of demonstrating this with such a bold print. It felt like it really highlighted the centre point.

I don’t often do full lining, and even when I do a bodice lining I usually use fabrics that are fairly cotton-like (even when they are polyester…). For this dress I used a more traditional shiny lining material and it does give a more professional look to the inside (although that’s not to say I’m a total convert…).

Generally the instructions were really clear, and that made this all the easier; Colette describe the dress as being intermediate level, but it certainly didn’t feel like it!

What was bad about making this?

There was only one bad thing, and that was sewing down the lining on the bodice. My days it was a nightmare.

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Lining nightmare face

The instructions for this step were pretty confusing as I’d not done something like that before, and, although they provided a link to a video that explained the technique, the video showed a sleeveless dress. Which mean it just didn’t work (to my brain at least) when trying to also deal with cap sleeves.

I had three goes at it and not one worked (in fact, one of them ended up sewing the lining to the outside of the dress. I’ve no idea how but it did). The boy had a look and he couldn’t figure it. I ended up saying “sod it” (but in slightly more…fruity… language) and leaving the raw edge sewn but exposed as no-one is going to see up my sleeve anyway!

Would you make it again?

I would. I’d consider not doing a full lining – or indeed any lining – as based on other dresses I’ve made I think this one would get away with it. I’d also like to try a sleeveless variation; I tried this on at the stage where the zipper was in and the sleeves were off and thought “this would work”. The final design idea that I’d like to try would be to add piping to the bodice, something I very nearly did this time but decided against as I thought multi-direction arrows were detail enough!

How about you? Have you had a go at Rue yet? What did you think?

x

Disclaimer: although Colette sent me the pattern for Rue for free, I received no other payment and all the views expressed here are my own.