Wedding Invites

No, not for my wedding. Not yet, anyway.

I’ve been invited to two weddings this year so I’m looking forward to making some party dresses! I think I will revisit the silhouette I passed over in favour of a floor length gown for the wedding I attended last summer, and so either Butterick 6129 or Butterick 5748Β are on my list for one of the weddings.

I like the shoulder detail on the 6129 so this is the leading choice at the moment:

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I fancy going the whole hog though and adding a net petticoat for some volume!

I’m considering a shift dress with a ruffle of some sort for the other wedding. Along these lines:

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Ruffled Shift Dress 03/2016 #120A

Although I’ve always had a penchant for a floral maxi so I won’t rule it out! πŸ˜€

I’m guessing a taffeta for the 6129, or maybe a silk dupion? Or a dull Duchess satin? Fabric selection is not a strength of mine so I welcome any advice. Would a brocade work for the 5748 do you think? I’ve ordered a sample of this gold and navy one. Bit more ‘dressy’ than cotton. I don’t like super shiny fabrics as they show all the lumps and bumps so I have to bear that in mind when shopping.

 

 

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Lena On Me

Did you know ‘Lena’ means ‘firewood’ in Swedish? And ‘brothel-keeper’ in Latin? No? Why ever not?! πŸ˜›

However, in the sewing world, the Lena is a faux wrap dress made in jersey fabric(s), with two sleeve lengths and optional lace overlay. Developed by Simple Sew, the Lena has been on my ‘to sew’ list for a while as I buy plenty of RTW wrap dresses as I love the style of them. I obtained the pattern free with Issue 35 of Love Sewing magazine so I’ve had it for a while.

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I opted for the navy jersey I also bought a while back (and have recently used for trim on the Anchor T-Shirt) and set about cutting out the bodice and sleeves. I cut a size 14 as this seemed to match the closest to my measurements but really I should have probably cut a 12 and done a FBA… Ah, hindsight, you beauty!

I managed to drastically stretch out the neckline whilst hemming, which almost made me bin it in frustration but I turned instead to the handy web and discovered tips involving steam that seemed to remedy it! πŸ™‚ The Lena is meant to be lined but I ditched this idea as I run hot and a long-sleeved jersey dress is likely to be warm enough for me without doubling up the layers. I detest being hot so I’d rather layer it with a cardigan or a vest top that I can remove. As such, I had to hem the neckline rather than using the lined method for finishing it.

Once I’d finished the bodice I was in two minds whether to continue on to the dress or leave it as a top, albeit with a bit of fabric added so it didn’t look too early-2000’s midriff bearing! I decided to plough on in the end but with the intention of making a kind of wrap ballet-esque cardigan/top soon.

My version is less ‘faux wrap’ as, by stitching the front crossover sections together to prevent the dreaded gape-age,Β it has less of a wrap around appearance to it. However, this is okay with me as at least I know I can wear it in polite company! Ideally, I should have altered the bodice to take some of the extra fabric in the back out (sounding like a broken record now from when I made the Kate jersey dresses…) and then I could have managed a closer fit and reduced the risk of the front dropping too far down. A tip to take forward for the cardigan/top.

Anyway, let’s have some photos:

When it came to the skirt I opted to use a contrasting fabric for the boarder 1) to prevent it being exceedingly plain and b) because I didn’t have quite enough fabric in blue jersey to make it uniform in colour.

It is a plain dress but it is also very ‘me’! This is part of my concerted effort to make more items in colours I wear/suit, shapes I wear/suit and fabrics I find comfortable/practical. It doesn’t mean I’ve completely ditched the brighter fabrics and patterns but I am trying to lead with my head a bit more than my heart when it comes to pattern choice and fabric purchases. We’ll see how long it continues… πŸ˜‰

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(I’m afraid I’m being a touch on the shy (vain!) side today, hence the cropped out face. And check out those pale post-Sri-Lankan-holiday legs!) πŸ˜‰

If (when) I make it again I will adjust the fabric in the back so that it sits closer to my figure (though this version is good for covering up food babies) and then it will allow me to leave the front crossover unstitched together and thus more ‘faux wrap’. I will also address the sleeves, which fit well lower down but are a bit baggy mid-arm. And I will play around with the placement of the bust darts as they sit a bit awkwardly.

What do you think? Is it too plain? Shall I add some more dashes of colour (e.g. either a motif on one shoulder or a flash of the red fabric inside the sleeves so they can be rolled up once)? Should I be embarrassed to wear this out and about or pleased?

P.S. The waistband looks a bit lopsided in the modelled photo but I think that must be the way I stand as it doesn’t look that was on Agnus.

Anchor Pieces

Considering my RTW wardrobe consists of a lot of stretch jersey, it isn’t a fabric I have much of. I love jersey tops because they’re comfy, they are pretty universal, and (best of all) they don’t require ironing!

I bought some nice jersey, at a higher price than I’d normally pay, a while back with the intention of making a Lena wrap dress. This is still very much the plan with the navy jersey I bought but I’ve opted to use the grey anchor patterned one for a self-drafted t-shirt.

I used a t-shirt I already have as a base for working out the shape and width but I then adapted it a fair bit whilst on Agnes (mannequin), especially the neckline. It’s not finished yet but here are some ‘work-in-progress’ photos:

(Apologies for the un-made bed… Oops!)

I was going to add actually sleeves but I liked how these cap-like sleeves just “happened” so I opted for that look instead. πŸ™‚ The trim is proving to be a bit fiddly though, so I haven’t finished it yet.

The neck binding also sits a bit awkward at the back of the neck, which is frustrating but not enough to prevent me finishing this. Hopefully some good pressing will help improve it!

Still not decided what the overall length should be as long tops are nice for covering up over winter but can look a bit untidy with skirts… Decisions, decisions!

On a totally unrelated note (pun intended…) I’ve just had my first ever cello lesson and I loved it! Such a gorgeous instrument that even a complete beginner like me can make a decent sound! πŸ™‚ Looks like I’ve found my 2018 learning challenge!!

The Ultimate Project

Last month I’m delighted to say my partner of four and a half years got down on bended knee and gave me a rock to treasure forever. Eek! 😍

(Excuse my wonky fingers and blunt nails. And yes, that’s Loch Lomond for the keen-eyed amongst you – romantic setting, right?!)

And so I now have license to plan the Ultimate Project: my wedding dress.

There’s no date set yet and it may be a while off but it’s impossible not to get thinking and thinking I have! Seriously, I couldn’t sleep one night because ‘my’ dress came to me all of a sudden and I had to get up and draw it (I’m no artist) so I could get to sleep!

Unfortunately – and here’s the bummer – I’m not going to be able to share any details with you! The only person whom I plan on letting into the beautiful fabric fold is my partner (as how on earth can one sew a gown secretly in a shared two-up two-down terrace?!) – and maybe my MoH to get a female perspective.

However, having said that, I will be practising many techniques over the coming months so I might be able to let you know how some of those go!

Now for the nosy part… Have you sewn a wedding dress? (Your own or someone else’s) What techniques/skills did you have to learn or brush up on? Any words of wisdom to share (besides ‘make a toile, make a toile, make a toile!’). And any good fabric suppliers I should consider?

Hit me with your knowledge!

Pack Up Your Troubles

After struggling to get back into the right frame of mind for sewing after completing The Wedding Guest Dress, I opted to try out my bag-making skills for a change and, hopefully, a rather easy project. I knew the kind of bag I wanted to make – basically, one with lots of pockets because that’s my favourite type of bag – and I knew what fabric I was going to use (some blue and white striped cotton pique I’d originally bought to make Karl a polo shirt but then realised it was too heavy).

I flicked through some back issues of Love Sewing magazine and found a design for a Cath Kidson-inspired bag that featured tons of pockets. Below is a montage of the projects in that issue (Issue 27) and the bag is the second photo in from the left:

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(Apologies that I couldn’t find a better photo of it but I couldn’t be asked to try to find my physical copy of the issue again just for the sake of this post!)

As usual, I started off following the pattern and then got side-tracked and did my own thing. I also put it off for a long time before picking it back up again. That was kind of a problem because I forgot which pieces I’d cut out… And I was so excited to use my overlocker to make impenetrable seams that I started that part too early and had to unpick/snip a load.

Because I’ve used cotton and not oilcloth like the pattern suggests, my bag is a lot floppier than the original but I knew this would be the case and I’m fine with it. The aim was to make a very relaxed, beach-ready bag that could be filled to the brim with all the lazing-on-the-beach essentials. Never-mind that I live practically at the centre of England and my nearest beach is about 100 miles away…

Oh well, at least it’s easy to grab for those spur-of-the-moment-100-mile-car-journeys!

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I actually reduced the number of pockets (I know, insane, right?) because I wasn’t sure the bag would balance very well otherwise so I just kept the three along the front and then one inside.

I love the pink straps. The colour combo is very ‘Jack Wills’, which, living as I did for so long in very preppy-dressed Exeter, is hardly a surprise. (Seriously, that city’s population looks as though JW threw up on it).

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But what I have that JW doesn’t is some cute penguin cotton for the lining! πŸ™‚

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I added the customary Creative Little Cwtch label on the inside and, for a little bit of fun, sewed on a motif I bought from My Fabrics in their sale, which fits the beachy/nautical theme!

It’s not a perfect sew in any sense of the word – some of my top-stitching is very wonky and just in ‘normal’ thread rather than anything thicker – but it’s good to finally finish a project and if it’s only going to get fictitious sand in it why waste tons of time on it?!

Montage time…

 

 

(Blue and white cotton pique fabric from Regency Rags; Pink cotton webbing from HaberCrafts; Can’t remember where I got the penguin cotton fabric from – sorry.)

A Beautiful Welsh Summer Wedding

On Thursday I watched one of my best friends of eight years marry her childhood sweetheart in a beautiful Welsh wedding in the shadows of the Brecon Beacons. She looked stunning in her sweeping, lace gown which perfectly complimented her petite figure and warm tan. But most beautiful of all was her beaming smile, which I don’t think left her face all day! πŸ˜€

It’s not for me to post photos of someone else’s wedding online for all to see so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was beautiful. πŸ™‚ But I am able to share with you a few photos of my finished Wedding Guest Dress, which I finished in the nick of time!

As a recap, I used New Look 6401 as a base pattern but I made some adjustments to suit my style and tastes. First, I adjusted the bodice to ensure a better fit on my figure, and I decided the back would meet at a higher point than the original pattern. The long, drapey ties for the bow at the back were lengthened further and a ‘peek-a-boo’ back was added towards the final stages as I struggled to get the fit to work otherwise. I added a narrow band under the bust to connect it to the skirt rather than attaching the skirt directly to the bodice as, again, I felt it complimented my shape more. I used a very narrow hem to ensure the gown was floor-length at the front and had a short train at the back (which was repeatedly trodden on by other guests but I loved it so it was worth the hassle!). I also added a side-seam split on the left-hand side to ensure there was plenty of movement for dancing! I managed to avoid any fastenings whatsoever so I was pleased!

So, here it is! πŸ™‚

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And now for the back…

 

I don’t think it’s quite as clear in these photos as in reality how the back looks as the bow had dropped a bit – probably because I’d been seated beforehand. I really didn’t think that part through, I realised; I had to sit against a knot for the entire day!! πŸ˜‰ Hopefully, you can just see that there’s a band of fabric across the bra-line (for the precise reason of hiding a normal bra so I didn’t have to wear an uncomfortable ‘invisible’ one all day!) and then there’s a ‘peek-a-boo’ gap, which I added when I had trouble with the fit of the waistband.

The night before the wedding I was holidaying with family in North Wales and so I was able to model my dress to my Grandma. Here reaction was priceless and so meaningful to me! She proudly paraded me to another caravan (yes – I strutted around a caravan park in this get-up, which led to a few funny looks!) to show some other family members. It was a relief as I was nervous by this point that I’d totally misjudged the dress and would look like a complete idiot at the wedding and be quite clearly the guest who had made her own outfit. Crippling self-doubt is a very common problem for me.

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I had the cutest shoes from Debenhams to wear with the dress, which were a lucky find in a sale a couple of days before. I’d also had Shellac nails done at a salon as my nails are always painfully ugly so what better way to compliment them than with a 10-minute clutch bag make?! Basically, I looked at clutches but couldn’t find one I liked so I envisioned making one. Needless to say I left it too late in the day to make my ideal bag so I tried to think outside the box… I grabbed a cushion cover from my car that had been waiting to go to a charity shop for weeks and quickly whipped up a perfect-sized sparkly clutch! One press stud and a bit of cardboard (for rigidity) later and hey presto! What do you think?

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The Wedding Guest Dress: Part 3 – Bust Out Those Darts

Warning: This post contains unflattering images and naked underarms… 😬

Trying to work out where bust darts should go when you have to self-pin is a tad tricky…! Maybe I should have bought a dressform rather than an overlocker!

 

The pattern doesn’t call for darts but I’m bigger busted than the pattern and don’t know how else to overcome the issue so darts it is! 😝 Gotta love a good dart. Or two. Two tends to be better otherwise you’d be a bit lopsided.

I also need to alter the neckline at the front. I mean, this is a daytimeΒ wedding! πŸ™ˆ

That’s an easy little fix though.

These photos show the inside of the garment by the way, though it’s pretty much the same on the outside; just flowers in different places.