A Stashbusting Strawberry Staple Dress

I seem to buy far more fabric than I have time to sew.  The trunk containing my stash is now refusing to shut and when I toted up all the things I have on my ‘to sew’ list, which I already have the fabric and patterns for, it came out at a round twenty (this accounts for only a third of the fabric I have stashed away!)  Some have been on the list for well over a year but every month get bumped downwards after a successful haul at the fabric shop. So when Sally from A Quirky Peach announced a Summer Stashbust it seemed like the ideal opportunity to get some of those poor bumped projects brought to life.  From 21st June until 21st September I will not be buying ANY NEW FABRIC, sewing exclusively from my stash.  I don’t know how I’ll cope going cold turkey like this, my monthly payday fabric shop is something I look forward to (so much so I have trouble sleeping the night before, wondering what delights await me in the morning) But now my other half has found my secret stash of knits at the back of the bathroom cupboard (he doesn’t know about the one in the loft) and I must admit that I have more than a touch of fabric compulsive disorder.

Image

My first make is the result of a particularly giddy impulsive ‘ooooh’ moment on last month’s fabric shop.  It was the first thing I saw when I walked through the door, bright purple and covered in strawberries:

Image

My rational was that purple is my favourite colour and strawberries my favourite fruit, put together this was the perfect fabric! (I bought mine in Economy fabrics but you can get it on ebay here!)  It was only when I got home and proudly showed my other half the latest haul that his raised eyebrow cast a shadow of doubt in my mind.  In the trunk it went while I pondered what to do with it.

Inspiration came in the form of Wimbledon, the perfect excuse to wear a dress with Strawberries on!  I knew I had to keep it simple as the fabric was so busy, anything fussy would be too much.  I had just bought the perfect pattern parcel #3, primarily for the Bombshell Swimsuit pattern but it also included the April Rhodes Staple Dress.  There had been quite a few versions popping up on the blogesphere and it looked like the ideal canvas for my fabric.  It’s a very simple pattern, only two main pattern pieces, kimono sleeves, in seam pockets with elastic shirring at the waist, which gives it it’s shape.

Image

I cut a size large and took 2 inches off the length of the bodice.  I then had a quick panic and added an inch back on to the length, figuring I could always take it off again later.  The dress came together like a dream.  The sleeves and neckline are finished with what is called a facing but is basically a strip cut on the bias. I didn’t follow the instructions, just folded it double, stitched it around the outside, raw edges together, then folded to the inside and topstitched it in place.

I was a little worried that it looked a bit tent like once I’d put it together but when I put a belt on to work out where my waistline fell I could see the potential.  The next bit was the fun part: shirring!  I absolutely love shirring!  I made a maxi sundress last year following By Hand London’s Shirred Top Tutorial and it was so much fun! (although I did have to do 30 rows of it to safely ensure the girls were well covered!)  I decided to do four rows on the waistline but very close together so that it had strength but didn’t look too ‘elasticated waisty’.  However, it was the first time I had done any shirring in the middle of a garment, I was getting so carried away that I managed to catch the skirt THREE TIMES!  After spending time carefully unpicking my enthusiasm I eventually got the four, relatively straight rows, at a total depth of about a centimetre.

Once I tried the dress on I was glad I’d added  the extra inch in length as it was knee baringly short!  I hemmed it with a tiny centimetre double fold hem and, although a little shorter than I usually wear (I try to hide my knobbly knees!) it turned out OK.

Image

Image

Image

Image

I’m actually really pleased with the result, I was a little concerned that it might be wearing me, but I think I’ve just managed to get away with it! I did try it with a variety of belts but it just didn’t look right so I decided to wear it without. It’s the perfect everyday dress for running around in and the fit is very forgiving of big lunches!  It’s also the perfect beach cover up and would look great in a Voile or Chiffon over a swimsuit.

It was a very quick and easy dress to make, taking about three hours including taping the pattern together, simple sewing with instant gratification, just what I needed!

Is your stash getting out of control?

Could you last three months without buying new fabric?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A Liberty Christmas Cambie!

OK, so it’s taken a little over six months, but I have finally finished making up one of my Christmas presents!  As you may recall in my previous post about Cambie number one my Mother in law kindly got me the Sewaholic Cabbie Dress pattern for Christmas, along with three metres of Liberty fabric of my choosing.  I spent hours pouring over fabrics online, I think it was about two weeks before I finally made a decision.  In the end I went with my head rather than my heart and plumped for something which would go with the Green Miette cardigan I had started knitting and so:

Ta dah!

Image

I now have a complete outfit!

The fabric is Ellie Ruth Liberty Tana Lawn in dark green from really posh fabric shop Joel and Sons, I think it cost around £21 a metre so this is by far the most expensive fabric I have ever worked with (I’m used to my bargain basement Economy Fabrics!).  It’s described as a ‘smart retro floral with toothpaste stripes’, I liked the combination of green and orange flowers:

Image

I made the dress exactly as I had done my first Cambie, I shortened the bodice by 1 inch and took an inch out of the centre back.  I self lined the bodice and used some more of my buttery white cotton to line the skirt.  For the skirt lining you just use the skirt pattern pieces so there is a lot of fabric!  There’s also more fabric in the back than there is in the front which makes for a very gathered derriere!  The only difference I made was to use the main fabric to make the pockets (I used my white lining fabric last time, as per the instructions, but it noticeably peeks out when you put your hand in the pocket!)

I used an invisible zipper and this time I took my time with it!  I added two strips of interfacing down the centre back and used my regular zipper foot to baste it in.  Only when I had matched up the waistband and basted the second side did I feel confident enough to switch to my invisible zipper foot and stitch it down properly!  I think I have learned not to sew when I’m tired or to try and rush things as I make silly mistakes and then spend ages unpicking them!

I did have a bit of a devil when it came to the final bodice fitting.  On my previous Cambie I had used a Rayon fabric which had a bit of give and seemed to mould around me.  The Tana Lawn, although a dream to sew with, didn’t want to mould!  I think I must have tried the dress on a dozen times while I was tweaking it, sewing in my undies in between!  It’s so difficult to fit when you are on your own, especially when you can’t see what your back is doing!  My main problem was that the neckline gaped a bit and I had pull marks about three inches above my waistline.  I ended up lowering the neckline by about an inch and a half before resorting to interfacing it!  (I have since tried on my first Cambie which also has a bit of a gape but as the fabric flops against my chest I didn’t notice). I also took nearly an inch off the side seams before I decided to stop as I was in danger of ‘over-fitting’ and buggering the whole thing up!

Anyway here’s the finished result:

Image

On Doris

Image

The insides

Image

On me!

Image

Twirlling..

Image

more twirling!

Image

The back…

Image

and from the side!

I think I have to be honest with myself and admit that the pulling at the back and the gaping front are there because I really need to do a full bust adjustment!  I have avoided doing a FBA since I tried it once with the Colette Rooibos dress and made a real mess of it (probably not the best pattern for a first try seeing as there are SIX waist darts!). A FBA also adds length to the bodice and seeing as I am short and usually have to take an inch of the length I can’t figure out just how much I would have to take off.  I think if I want things to really fit well I’m just going to have to get past my fear and have a go, I did put it down as one of my New year sewaloutions so I’ve got another five and a half months to crack it!

Overall I really like how vintagey this dress looks, the sleeves, full skirt and the nipped in waist are very evocative of the pattern envelopes from the fifties (only twice the size!). I am quite surprised with how light and yellowy the fabric looks as I thought it would come out darker with the flowers and black stripes.  I have spent the past three weeks working on both Cambies and to be honest I feel all dressed out and was just pleased to get it done and out of the way!  It’s a great pattern and I will definitely make more but I think I need to do some quick fix sewing with some instant gratification to resurrect my sewing mojo.  I’ve got my outfit along dress to make but the deadline is not until the end of July so I think I can safely put it on the back burner for a couple of weeks.  I toted up my list of ‘to sew’ projects the other day and realised I had twenty things in the queue which I’ve got the pattern and fabric for!  Now I’ve just got to decide which to start first!

Do you ever experience sewing fatigue?  And just to be nosey, how long is your sewing queue?!

Untangling knots and Lladybird’s ‘outfit along’

Lauren at Ladybird and Andi at Untangling knots have announced a sewalong with a difference: a full outfit along!  The full details are here but the basic idea is to sew a dress and knit a cardigan making up a full outfit!  Andi has designed a new pattern for the knitalong, Myrna, which has cute short sleeves, eyelets detail around the edging and a keyhole in the back.  Lauren has chosen Simplicity 1803 for the dress (but you don’t have to stick with this and can make any pattern you like!). I’ve decided to have a go at the Simplicity as it’s been a while since I sewed anything from the big four pattern companies.  Here’s the pattern and my fabric:

Image

I have had this fabric in my stash for ages and had been saving it for something ‘special’.  I think the time has come to finally cut into it.  I’m planning on making the cap sleeved dress (the pink one on the right).  The outfit along is running from 1st June until 31st July so I’ve got plenty of time to put this dress together.  I want to get my Liberty Cambie out of the way before I start on this!

The cardigan on the other hand will probably take me the full two months to complete!  I was undecided as to what colour yarn to choose.  I initially wanted to go for a gold colour to pick out the flowers but me made May has made me realise I desperately need a blue cardigan in my wardrobe so I went for:

Image

It’s Cascade 220 superwash in shade 813 Blue Velvet.  I think I’m going to go all out matchy matchy with this outfit and try and find some gold flower buttons for the Myrna!  I cast on and knitted a few rows last night and the yarn does look quite nice knitted up.

Are you planning to join the outfit along?  Do you plan your makes so that they coordinate with other things in your wardrobe?