Lexi in Red

I've only made one Named Patterns pattern before - the Jamie jeans - but when they released their latest collection - New Black - I knew I had to make the Lexi dress.  From the line drawing it looked as if it would be right up my street, and it is.

Named describe this as an A line dress with a loose fit, boat neck and long bust darts at the front.  It has a lowered waistline and an above knee length skirt, with two pleats in the front and back of the skirt.

Here's my finished version.

I used some red polyester crepe I've had in stash for a good couple of years, I'm normally drawn to patterned fabrics but I wanted to use something plain for this to show off the long darts and pleats in the skirt.  Having said that, you can't really see them that well in this photo.  Red is so hard to photograph.

I was going to tell you what size I made but I can't remember.  I printed and cut the pdf pattern out a few weeks before I actually made the dress and I don't have a record of which size I actually used in the end.  I'm naughty - I don't trace pdf patterns - I just cut them out, working on the principle that I can print them again if I need to.   I'd actually rather spend time sticking the sheets together than tracing!

Anyway, I'm happy with the fit across the shoulders and bust, but I'd probably go down one size in the waist and hips another time.  It's meant to be a loose dress but this one is very loose on me.  I do like the shape though, but feel I can only get away with it because it's above knee length. 

I made a few changes along the way as I normally do, nothing major this time though because I love the dress as it is.   The pattern calls for the dress to be lined, but I didn't have any suitable lining so I didn't.  I just used the facing pieces for the top pattern (which is also included when you buy the dress) to finish the neckline.  I used to hate neck facings but I'm coming round to the idea of them again.

I also omitted the back zip, because I only had a standard red zip in the right length and I only like invisible zips in the back of dresses.  It really doesn't need the zip though, I can get it on and off easily.  I think even if I went down a size I wouldn't need a zip in it.

I cut the dress to the length given on the pattern, but then did a much deeper hem - 4 inches instead of the recommended inch and a quarter.  I think this is the perfect length for me - I'm 5' 3" - any longer and it would look like a shapeless, frumpy sack.   I love the way it's slightly longer at the back.

I'll definitely make this again, I have some black and ivory houndstooth fabric in my stash that might work for it, although it's a heavier weight than this crepe.  I think that might work if I go down a size, so that it's not quite so loose.  I think it would also work in a ponte knit and would be so comfortable. 

In the meantime I think I'm going to wear this version to my parent's 50th wedding anniversary party a week on Saturday. 

A Christmas Village

If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen my Tweet earlier in the week about a Christmas sewing tutorial I've been working on. 


I know it's a bit early for most people, myself included, but it was for the 12 Makes of Christmas series of blog posts that my lovely friends at Fabric HQ do every year.   They aim to post one Christmas sewing/crafty related tutorial a week during the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas, hence the early start.

Anyway, my tutorial for a free motion embroidered village is now live on the Fabric HQ blog, so pop over and have a look.  While you're there, have a look at their gorgeous selection of Christmas fabrics, and their lovely fabrics in general.

I'm thinking of doing smaller versions of this for my Christmas cards this year.  Are you planning any Christmas sewing?  Have you started it yet?

Minerva Crafts Blogger Network : Waistcoat and Trousers

This month’s Minerva Crafts project is actually two pieces, and was meant to be two months projects, but last month time just got away from me and I didn’t have time to complete the piece.

I’ll start by apologising for the lack of modelled photos, again time (and good lighting) has got away from me and my photographer is nowhere to be seen when I need him!  You will have to settle for Rosie doing the modelling for you, which is not ideal when it comes to trousers I’m afraid.  You’ll have to believe me when I say the trousers fit me very well.

I’ve always loved menswear inspired designs, particularly fitted waistcoats and wide legged trousers, so that is what I’ve tried to recreate here.
I used some lovely black and grey mini dogtooth check fabric, which appears to be sold out on the Minerva website, but they have plenty of other lovely suiting fabrics you could use instead.
I made the waistcoat first. 

Would you believe that it started life as this vintage (if you can call 1990’s patterns vintage) dress pattern?

I actually bought the pattern with the intention of using it to make a coat – and I’m still planning on doing that – but thought it would be perfect as the basis for a double breasted waistcoat as well.  I spent ages testing different design ideas, I’d actually planned on making it much higher in the neckline, and with an asymmetric hem of some sort, but in the end simplicity one out. 

The trousers are from a Burda pattern, Young Burda 6856, which includes both this wide legged design and a narrow leg with high waist and braces.  I decreased the size of the pleat a little on this version as it was a bit too full for my liking.

I’m pretty pleased with my fly front, even though its the first one I’ve done for a couple of years and the instructions had me scratching my head for a while.

Don’t you love the buttons?  They’re some vintage glass ones I bought in a little shop in Lyme Regis about a year ago and have been saving for the perfect project.  

I can’t wait to wear this outfit now the weather has become more Autumnal.  I just need a few new blouses or shirts to wear underneath... watch this space!

Thanks go again to Minerva Crafts for providing me with the fabrics to make this outfit.  I actually have enough left for a skirt as well, so you may well see that at some stage.
This project is actually going to be my last for the Minerva Blogger Network as I'm now finding it harder and harder to fit in all my sewing commitments.  I've thoroughly enjoyed being part of such a fun and varied group, and would like to thank Vicki and all at Minerva Crafts for their help and support over the time I've been part of the network.  

Self Drafted Skandi Skirt

Hi there!

I'd like to share my first attempt at pattern drafting with you today.  I've seen a lot of box pleated midi skirts around lately and thought I'd have a go at drafting my own.  It was a lot of fun.

I started with this highly technical drawing:

The dimensions are taken from a 8 panelled RTW midi skirt I bought a couple of years ago.  I thought it was a pretty good place to start from.

Even though the "inspiration" skirt has a straight waistband I drafted a curved one based on my skirt block.  I find curved waistbands much more comfortable than straight ones.

Once that was done, I divided the measurement along the bottom seamline of the waistband by 8 to get the top width of my panels.  It was almost exactly the same as the measurement from the RTW skirt, so I used the same hem width for each panel as the RTW skirt has. 

I then decided how deep I wanted the pleats to be - 1 inch - and therefore added 2 inches to each side of my basic panel piece, curving the waist and hem with my pattern master.

I made it a bit more complicated than I needed to initially because for some reason I decided I needed to make it panelled, as the RTW skirt was, hiding the seams inside the pleats.  I was going to have 2 centre panels front and back, with pleats either side and between them, and then side panels without pleats at the side seam. 

The dashed line in the photo above shows where I marked the cutting line for the side panels.  I traced this off and ended up with the two pieces below.

However when it actually came to cutting out I came to my senses and realised I didn't need seamed panels, so I pinned the side piece over the seam allowance for the centre panel and cut one complete front and one complete back, marking the top of the pleats with snips into the fabric.

When it came to sewing I stitched the tops of the pleats down 2 inches from the edge, and then pressed and stitched them in place.

Here's a photo of one piece before I sewed them together and added the waistband.

The construction was pretty straightforward.  I cut two front and two back waistbands and interfaced one of each.  Then there was just two side seams to sew, a lapped zip to insert and the hem.  The seam allowances are all finished with the overlocker.

This is a pretty different style for me, both in terms of shape and fabric, but I think I like it.  The fabric by the way is from Ikea, I think it was £4.00 a metre.  I easily got this out of 2 metres, even allowing for pattern matching.

I envisage wearing it like this most often, with a black top and opaque tights, but also like it with the denim shirt I've styled it with below.  I think that needs sheer tights though, the black look a bit heavy.  I'd also like it with a black blouse - I think I'll feel most comfortable pairing it with black - or a cropped top that sits just over the waistband.

So that's my first attempt at pattern drafting.  It was a pretty straightforward style for a first go, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  Now to make some tops to go with it!