Red Roses Akita Blouse

akita blouse

I finally cracked and set up a subscription to Seamwork. There are few things more likely to make me get my wallet out than the phrase “secret pyjamas”, which was used to describe the latest trouser offering in this month’s edition, so I’m now a fully paid up member. If anyone hasn’t heard of it, it’s an online magazine by the fabulous Colette team. The articles are free and well worth a read and for $6 a month you also get 2 patterns with every edition – as a Brit it took me a while to work out that this was actually pretty amazing value. You can also buy the old patterns for $7 each if you don’t want to sign up!

Red Roses Akita

Apart from the aforementioned secret pyjamas (Moji), the lovely Akita blouse pattern is included in this month’s issue. It’s an extremely simple blouse with one pattern piece. You cut the material on the fold and end up with one piece of material and you basically just sew up bust darts, side seams and finish all the edges.

Red Roses Akita

According to Seamwork the pattern is supposed to take one hour. Obviously this doesn’t take into account printing and sticking the pattern pieces (which always takes me FOREVER), cutting out the fabric and making your own bias binding, which I ended up doing. However, it is extremely quick once you have all those things, so it’s a great pattern for a quick fix and now that I’ve got the pattern pieces I can imagine whipping up quite a few of these!

Red Roses Akita

Red Roses Akita

I absolutely love the silhouette of the blouse tucked into a skirt, especially with this drapey fabric. I bought the fabric in Masons and I believe it was labelled as viscose. It has a nice feel to it, similar to peach skin. One downside, which you can see in some of the pictures is that it does crease quite easily, but I don’t mind that much. Partly my fault for taking photos after wearing it to work all day and not ironing it when I got home 😉 I also really like the pattern, which reminds me of Charles Rennie Mackintosh stained glass.

Red Roses Akita

In the instructions you finish the sleeve hem and the slits at the bottom of the side seams before sewing the side seams. I personally think that this has made the join between hem and seam quite weak and I think next time I’ll do it the other way around.

Red Roses Akita

Red Roses Akita

The main problem I had with this pattern, which you can probably see in these photos (again, sorry about the creases
) is that it’s far too long on me. I guess I should have thought about this, but I’ve got used to using Tilly patterns where I don’t have to worry about it so much. It’s not helped by the fact that I did a bad job of cutting the back hem, so it’s a little shorter than the front either. I’m considering shortening the front by a couple of inches so that it looks a bit more balanced, but I think I’ll mostly wear this blouse tucked in, so it’s not a big deal. Next time I cut it out I’ll definitely shorten a bit though. I think I could even do with shortening the top half because the bust darts are quite low.

Red Roses Akita

This was the first time I ventured further than the yard behind our flat for some blog photos and I was really self-conscious about it! I don’t even know why, it just feels weird to be doing a photo shoot and for people to be walking past and watching. I guess this is something I can work on. Do you have blog photo fear too?! Special thanks go to Ben for getting such fab pictures despite an unruly model and fading light :)

Red Roses Akita

Parrots and Palms Mimi Dress

mimi dress

After the completion of my Mimi blouse I wanted to make another dress. I am always swooning over shirt dresses and actually bought the Colette Hawthorn pattern in the Spring. However, the muslin I made for it fit me atrociously and I didn’t really know what to do, so it’s been sitting scarily next to my sewing desk daring me to try again. With no pattern in mind I was looking for inspiration and I suddenly thought – why not make a shirt dress out of your favourite shirt pattern? And so the Mimi dress was born.

MimiParrotDress4To make it into a dress, I cut out a pattern piece that went from the notches at the waist and flared out in a straight line from there, following the curve as the waist comes out to the hip. I added a curve to the bottom so that the hem would be straight and notches to line it up with the blouse pieces.

MimiParrotDress6

A quick note because I didn’t think about it until I started construction – if you’re using a pattern with a right way up then the yoke is not going to be the right way up on the front and back. On mine this means I have some upside down palm trees on the shoulder, but I don’t think it looks that weird – the collar covers part of it up anyway. Something to consider though!

For the construction I again added the collar and facing before sewing the side seams, which I definitely think makes it easier. Sadly I completely forgot to add pockets when I did the side seams, which I’m finding quite annoying. Wondering if I should add patch pockets? I also changed the shape of the collar to more of a square collar for variety. To get the pattern for the collar to be the right way up I cut the upper collar piece in two pieces with a seam at the back.

MimiParrotDress7

The last deviation from the pattern was the facing. On both the Mimi and Mathilde patterns the neckline is faced with a piece of material that folds to the inside and is then understitched to stop it rolling to the outside. I don’t know what I do to clothes, but I can never stop this facing from popping out. I don’t think it’s particularly the pattern or my sewing because I find the same with shop bought clothes.

Anyway, this was especially bad with Mimi because it has a collar that should be on the outside and a facing that should be on the inside and I can never get them lying right without much ironing, so for this iteration I have not let it flap around. I reduced the width of the facing pieces by about an inch and then sewed it all together as per the instructions (don’t do what I did and forget to lengthen the front facing to the length of the dress). Once the facing was attached, understitched AND finished with zig-zag to prevent any more fraying nightmares, I topstitched it down. This doesn’t detract at all from the look of the dress because the part around the neck is hidden under the collar and the part down the front becomes a button placket of sorts. I would highly recommend this to anyone that hates having to rearrange their facings every morning. I’m considering hand stitching it down on my other tops and dresses.

MimiParrotDress3

The fabric is a lovely polyester peach skin chiffon from Backstitch, which I thought would be very cute for the summer with its parrots and palms. Makes me want to lie on a tropical beach! The buttons were from my stash, originally from the bargain bucket of buttons in Masons. The colour of the buttons goes well with the parrots, so I’m pleased with those.

MimiParrotDress8

Negatives: No pockets! Also, the polyester fabric has a tendency to stick to my tights or legs and ride up if I’m wearing a bag, so I have to be quite careful when wearing it.

Positives: I’m very pleased with this dress. It looks great with a belt for the office or without a belt on the beach. The fabric is really cute and lovely and airy for the summer

I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of my Mimi Dress “in the wild” at the Elan Valley in Wales. These photos were taken on my old film slr.

MimiParrotDress1

MimiParrotDress2

Paisley Summer Sun (Bear) Dress

sun dress

When summer comes around obviously all us sewists want is a floaty sun dress. I decided that after the success of using my bodice sloper for the Glastonbury Circus Dress I would have another go at self drafting. And so the Paisley Summer Sun (Bear) Dress was born.

Perfect Paisley Summer DressThis time I cut out the bodice exactly from my sloper pattern and the skirt I took from my Moneta pattern. For the skirt I cut out a size down since I didn’t want to gather all the way round and I also cut out sections on the front pieces for pockets in the same way I did for my Red Wool Skirt. I know Moneta is a knit pattern, but I figured that the pattern woudn’t be hugely different for a gathered skirt and I didn’t have any issues. I wouldn’t recommend using a knit pattern for a woven bodice though, because of the negative ease.

PaisleyBlueDress1PaisleyBlueDress3Construction was fairly simple. I sewed up the bodice apart from the left side seam. I always prefer putting zips in the side rather than the back – first, because it’s one less seam to sew, second, because the zip stays hidden under your arm and third, because I don’t have to contort myself to get dressed in the morning. Does anyone think there’s a benefit to having the zip in the back? I feel like there must be a big secret I’m missing? Maybe everyone else is just more pedantic about symmetry than me (I find that hard to believe).

PaisleyBlueDress7I then constructed the pockets and sewed the right side seam of the skirt together. I remembered reading in a blog post somewhere that a pattern was flattering because the gathering didn’t continue round the sides. Can’t for the life of me remember what the pattern was or where I read it, but they had a good point! So I only gathered a section in the front and the back leaving the sides gather-less and oh my were they right, you get the cuteness of the gathers without any fullness round the hips. From here the skirt and bodice were sewn together. PaisleyBlueDress8PaisleyBlueDress4To finish off the neck and arms I used bias-binding. This time I decided to make my own, which is actually a first! I have always been of the opinion this would be a fiddly pointless job when you can buy it in such an array of pretty colours and patterns pre-made. As is often the case, I was entirely wrong about this: making your own means the colours match, the fabrics have the same rigidity, you can choose your width AND you have a way to use up your fabric scraps. It’s win-win really! Obviously I’m not going to give up the anchor-print bias-binding in my stash altogether because it’s easy and is going to look extremely cool on the inside of a garment, but in future I will not reach for it without considering the self-fabric type first.

Once the neckline was done, I just had the concealed zip and the hem to do and voila! One lovely cool sun dress.

PaisleyBlueDress6Let’s start with some positives. The fabric is a lovely drapey cotton from Masons with a cute paisley interspersed with flowers; I like that it looks a bit denim-y. I’m really pleased with the skirt and pockets and with the fit around the bust. I also love the gathering not going all the way round, I agree that it’s really flattering (thank you mystery person and apologies for not linking you).

However as usual there are some negatives. You can probably see in a few of the pictures that the shoulders are just too big. This is giving some gaping at the front of the armhole and also means when I put a cardigan on over it, the neckline can ripple quite a lot. I’m not sure if this is because the fabric is drapier than the muslin used for the sloper? Maybe it was just me cutting out inaccurately? Despite the good shape around the bust, the whole of the bodice actually feels a little loose – I can’t tell if I’m just used to RTW dresses being too tight? For a summer dress I don’t really mind it being a bit airy, but I think I do need to make a couple of tweaks to the pattern. The other negative is the colour. Yep I know, it’s a lovely colour, that’s why I bought it! I just feel like maybe it’s not quite ME. I like bright, contrasting colours, so this leaves me feeling a little muted. Maybe part of the problem is that the only bright cardigan I have is blue, so I’ve been wearing this with a dark grey cardie and black tights most of the time. Perhaps if I brighten up the accessories (or if the summer will brighten up to accompany it!) I can learn to truly love this dress.

PaisleyBlueDress5Despite the negatives, this is a dress that I will definitely wear a fair amount and I’m looking forwards to making again. I think I’ve got the foundation for a wardrobe staple that I could end up sewing quite a lot.