Hope you’re all having a good week? I’ve been spending lots of time in my sewing room, getting ready for my first wedding anniversary (as we’re making a weekend of it), and planning for our trip to Paris in September! I’m also looking forward to the Craft New House summer party with it’s Italian Riviera theme. You can see my outfit progress over on Instagram if you’re interested.
Life has this stupid habit of getting in the way of essential sewing doesn’t it. Only joking, life is equally as important if a little less fun than sewing. I know I’m pretty lucky to get so much sewing time so it embarrasses me when I takes me months to finish a make. This dress was started in January.
Inspired by a Joanie dress in a similar print I set about making my own version using the Sew Over It Vintage Shirtdress pattern. Obviously I’ve used that pattern A LOT and I’ve made TOO MANY SHIRTDRESSES for some people! But safe to say it always makes me feel good. It’s not a brilliant match to the Joanie dress but close enough that I could dive straight in.
This stunning Georgette fabric is from So Sew English who are actually in the US. They offered me two fabrics to review and this one screamed out at me. They’re keen for more international sewist to give them a chance and I have to say the fabrics don’t disappoint! It has a lovely crinkle effect on it and is slightly stretchy.
They also have a UK co-op that all have their orders sent to our person, Casey, in the UK. She then distributes and ships to everyone within the UK. It’s significantly cheaper for us to send large boxes with our carrier then to ship domestically within the UK than it is to ship directly to each individual. The UK co-op is here: https://www.facebook.com
I’m fairly confident with piping and enjoyed adding the pop of white to the collar and placket. Originally I was going to add sleeves with piped hems to my shirtdress but once again fell out of love with the drafting of the included sleeve shape. It is just so tall in the cap and makes a weird hill on the top of your shoulder when you move your arm. And I ran out of fabric to try cutting new ones. Instead I piped the armholes. I just wish I’d had enough fabric for a sash belt too.
I added a couple of cm to the side seams as due to some increased cake consumption I’m now a 31.5″ waist, but working on getting that back down a bit so I keep fitting into all my me-mades. And I added 2″ to the hem to have more knee coverage. I really prefer hiding my knees these days. The back shot above makes me look super bootylicious!
For the facings I used leftover organza from my wedding dress as I thought black interfacing would make those areas too opaque. I’m pretty happy with the result. The buttons are from my stash and the piping was from ebay so it was a pretty cost efficient dress.
I hope you liked a peek at my bazillionth shirtdress. Maybe it inspired you to give piping a go! All I keep thinking with these pictures is to get a haircut asap. I stripped another layer of hair dye off before these pics and my ends are super dry and sad looking. You can see more of my #grombre progress here though which is great even if it’s only a peek. You have to catch me in person for the full effect! I’ll leave you with a few of my faves from the So Sew English site!
If you’ve stuck around here long enough, you’ll have noticed I have a real affection for slinky fabrics.
With the completion of my Satin pyjamas I thought it was about time I share some of my personal survival tactics with Satin.
BUT most of these also apply to Silks, Viscose, Chiffon, Crepe or Georgette.
I’ve always heard it’s best to store Satin rolled up to avoid getting creases that need to be ironed out later. I’ve stored it both rolled up and loosely folded and I have to say I didn’t have much problem either way. That being said, best not to put a ton of Corduroy and Denim on top of your Satin if you’re not sewing it up straight away.
2. Can’t stand the heat!
Satin has a special kind of weave that creates a glossy right-side to the fabric and a dull wrong-side. This lustre can be damaged by the high heat and steam of an iron or even accidentally picking an overaggressive spin-cycle on your washing machine.
Wash at 30 degrees and turn your iron to its coolest setting. Always press on the wrong side of the fabric or if you must press the right side then use a pressing cloth. The weight of your iron, more than the heat will help you achieve neatly pressed edges.
3. Lay it down.
Don’t be fooled, slippery fabric wants to escape your cutting table as soon as your back is turned! So unless you can fit all the fabric on the table without gravity coming into play I’d suggest cutting out on the floor (not the carpet). Basting will also be your new best friend – pin or stitch the folded fabric together to increase stability.
Best to also clear a good space around your machine, as again, you’ll be sewing along and suddenly your fabric will fling itself off the table like it has decided to end it all!
It’s not as obvious as the pile of velvet but there is a subtly different sheen when you view Satin one way rather than the other. Remember to lay all your pieces out in one direction even if your print is multi-directional… if you care about things like that.
5. To the point
First off, I hope you don’t have a tin full of dented blunt pins. That’s going to end in disaster.
Use the finest machine needle you can get hold of. Nice and sharp. I always use polyester thread. Use a small stitch length and try not to rip out stitches.
If you need to unpick, hey it happens, break the threads at regular intervals and then carefully unpick the shorter lengths to save trauma to the fabric.
I’m going to say the words people aren’t supposed to say. Deep breath… don’t beat yourself up about the grain. HEY I didn’t say ignore it completely! If you end up slightly off-grain because of the slippery nature of the fabric, you’ll be okay.
I generally find drapey fabrics far more forgiving in this regard and they very rarely warp over time. A significant amount of ready to wear clothing is produced off-grain and it’s never done us that much harm. But it’s not like it takes long to do so make the effort to line things up as best as you can.
Before you end up in a sea of Satin-fluff you might want to think about how to finish your seams. I definitely recommend French seams. I used them for 90% of the pyjamas except for the crotch seam on the pj bottoms and around the armholes in the pj top; there I used my serger to neaten things off.
French seams are so good because they’re secure, look pretty awesome and are really easy to sew when you’ve thought through the logistics! You can even use them on curved seams, even though I didn’t as I was honed in on the finish line – aka lazy. I did take the time to encase the exposed edge of my shirt facing with Satin bias binding as I was feeling classy for about 5 mins. .
Other options still apply — zig zag the raw edges, use pinking shears or bias/seam binding, or maybe you’ve prefer to fold under and top stitch your seam allowances out of sight.
- You can use a gelatin bath or similar on your fabric to give it temporary body – this washes out easily enough but I don’t like how slimy it makes the fabric and my machine bed.
- If you want more tips for silk check out Jen’s awesome tutorial which covers helpful cutting techniques using paper. This is a very common method for a good reason.
- Familiar with the tissue paper technique? This is for sewing (rather than cutting) and I’ve found it very handy in the past.
May is upon us. And for everyone in Europe we had a bank holiday to kick things off too!
I managed four out of five days in me-mades this week. I had agreed with myself a goal of six out of seven days in each week but hey, this was a short week!
Day 1: green bias stripe top from self drafted pattern. Not blogged because its the same fabric and pattern as my bias stripe dress!
Day 2: sweetheart print truffle bodice with self drafted gathered a-line skirt. More about that later.
Day 3: one of the first ever things I made, my georgette star print top using New Look 6962.
Day 4: strappy top made from the skirt of a topshop sundress using Butterick 5653.
I had an awesome weekend. I saw my little brother on Saturday and went to Abakhans where I bought chevron print fabric for an unbelievably good price. Saw friends and ate good food on Sunday. And larked about around the canal and docks before having a bbq yesterday! Plus I watched three good films and snuck in a smidge of sewing!!
Hope you had a fantastic weekend too!
“So what did you do this weekend?”
“Oh I went shopping in London with 50 strangers off the Internet and we took over a Lebenese restaurant. What did you do?”
I want to say that this weekend’s meetup in London was so tremendous that I’m finding it hard to describe. I tried to summarise proceedings in an email to my brother and pretty sure I didn’t convey how amazing it was (plus I know I missed bits out).
So forgive me if I opt out from trying to do it justice. If you were there, well you know. If you weren’t, our delightful host Rachel and many of the FIFTY other attendees will do a much better job than I.
Instead of a full round up I wanted to hone in some of my highlights of the day.
A big highlight for me was how much more confident I felt at my second meet up than my first, especially given the scare factor of such a huge gathering. I think this was partly down to seeing lovely familiar faces. Rachel makes you feel like you’ve known her years. Marie is such a sweetheart, she always makes me laugh. Roisin is like a fantastic whirlwind and didn’t stay long but made a point to catch up with me. And it was lovely to chat with Catherine again (I had a feeling she’d pick my sparkly jersey from the swap).
Another highlight was meeting so many new people – people I’ve admired and read their blogs from afar and people that write wonderful blogs I’d not heard of before. Sitting with Camilla, Jo and Janene for lunch was great because they were all so chatty and funny. Finally meeting Sallie and confirming my suspicions of her Yorkshire roots was ace. And of course meeting LIZZY! Our international attendee. She really is so so friendly in real life. I felt a bit star struck to be honest; I didn’t get a photo of us together and I felt like I didn’t convey how grateful I was that she brought fabric over for me!
The V&A is so spectacular I can’t believe I’ve never been before! I’m definitely going again.
Goldhawk Road was kind of a revelation. It was so neat to see all the fabric shops along one road where we could bounce in and out of them all hunting for bargains. Now some of you may have noticed my desperate desire to find horse print fabric. And since Goldhawk Road is famous for getting end rolls from commercial fashion companies I felt optimistic.
I wasn’t disappointed. I also picked up some other delights. Not much mind you as I’d already spent all my money in Birmingham. My swap freebies included this amazing bird print rayon from Lizzy, and a printed silk plus a cute simplicity sundress pattern from a mystery source.
Finally, I was amazed by the generosity of Minerva Fabrics and Abakhans. These two companies effectively sponsored our day out. I can’t even begin to convey the amount of fabric, notions and trims Abakhans supplied to the swap. And Minerva gave everyone goodie bags they’d thoughtfully put together – see the awesome felted wool knitted fabric I was given (above). I always thought the blogging community was surpisingly separate from the sewing supply companies but lately my eyes have been opened.
* Meet up photos by Digpal Singh
Now I wouldn’t say I live particularly close to Birmingham. The first time I ever went was for Marie and Kat‘s wonderful blogger meet up at the end of last year. Another meet up is organised for June 15th!
Last time I caught the megabus and arrived in three hours. This time I had the pleasure of being chauffeur driven by Mr AR and it took half the time!
The bull ring lured me into buying new shoes, make up and jewelry. I’m not doing the seamless pledge officially but it makes me happy to only buy things I cannot make myself.
I then tottered over the road to the outdoor market. The outdoor fabric stalls weren’t as good as I remembered but I think I was rushing. The sun was out and markets were extremely busy so I decided to pop inside and return later.
My favourite stall inside is the one run by two women; one is older the other a lot younger. They’re in roughly the centre of the indoor market and their stand is a treasure trove. One downside is everything is stacked on top of each other and I always fall in love with the bottom rolls. (That is an amazing way to finish a sentence I have to say!)
Then to top it off when I ventured back outside I found some lovely multicoloured spot “German viscose” (not sure what difference German manufacturing makes) plus some black corduroy and navy crepe (not pictured).
I definitely recommend the rag market for sewists on the hunt for a bargain. And if you’d like some company exploring get yourself along to the June 15th Rag Market meet up mentioned above!
I’ll be there for sure. Just don’t let me buy anything!
PS. Check out the Rag Market’s awesome new website! It’s still in development but much more friendly than the previous version.