Friday, 13 July 2018

Floral Viscose Kew Dress

It has been wonderfully hot and sunny in London for the last few weeks. Perfect timing as I had just finished this dream of a summer dress. This is the Kew Dress from Nina Lee London and I've been planning to make it since it was released last year. Finishing this is actually another garment ticked off my #2018makenine! I bought the pattern at the Great British Sewing Bee Live from Nina herself but it has taken me six months and the promise of some true summer weather to prompt me to find the time to make it!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Nina Lee London Kew Dress in Dahlia Floral Viscose Crepe from Til the Sun Goes Down

Part of what took me so long was down to sheer indecisiveness. Firstly about which view to make; sleeves, straps or cold shoulder? The lovely little fluttery sleeve on the cold shoulder version is what first drew me to the pattern (as well as the beautiful feature button front) but I was concerned that the shoulder would date quickly. In the end the fabric made this choice for me as the breezy drape of it was the perfect match for this style.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Nina Lee London Kew Dress in Dahlia Floral Viscose Crepe from Til the Sun Goes Down

The fabric was actually the second thing that held me up. It is this stunning Dahlia viscose crepe from Til The Sun Goes Down which I have been lusting after for probably no less than two years. To be honest I lust after most of their beautifully curated fabric range which mainly consists of reproduction vintage prints on fabrics perfect for dressmaking. This particular design is inspired by a 1930s print and is unfortunately currently out of stock on the website. A vintage inspired floral isn't what I usually tend to gravitate towards but I think it was the organic feel, vibrant colours and fairly large scale that drew me to this. Andree made my dreams come true when she generously gifted me a length of it at the Knitting & Stitching show in the Spring. I had 1.5m following the requirements on the back of the pattern but only just squeezed the dress out of that as I failed to note that it's 138cm wide not 150cm!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Nina Lee London Kew Dress in Dahlia Floral Viscose Crepe from Til the Sun Goes Down

I did have this pattern in mind when I picked it from her stand but once I had it pre-washed and ready to go I started doubting myself. I liked the fabric so much, and had it on my wish list for so long that I quite desperately didn't want to waste it on the wrong project! I went on a summer dress pattern hunt, even enlisting the help of my Instagram viewers with a poll. I wondered if this dramatic print would be better showcased paired with a simple garment and both the Papercut Patterns Sway and Adrift Dresses were close contenders but I fell back on my initial gut instinct and stuck with the Kew.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Nina Lee London Kew Dress in Dahlia Floral Viscose Crepe from Til the Sun Goes Down

Viscose is probably my favourite fibre to make dresses out of. It has such great movement, drapes beautifully without clinging or sticking and keeps you so cool, even in the stuffiness of a London heatwave. This particular viscose has a lovely matte, crepey texture that adds to the vintage vibe. It is great to sew with too, once you know how to handle it! It is a delicate fibre that is best laundered on a cool and delicate cycle and left to line dry. I always use a fairly cool iron. It is made from wood pulp and has a lot of the same properties as silk but generally with a less hefty price tag! As with fine silks it can be quite shifty so I'd recommend lots of fine pins and if you're new to this kind of fabric perhaps cutting in a single layer. My favourite trick for slippery fabrics is cutting on carpet so there's a bit of grip.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Nina Lee London Kew Dress in Dahlia Floral Viscose Crepe from Til the Sun Goes Down

I also find viscose has the potential to stretch out as you sew so make sure to stay-stitch the edges that are cut on the bias. I'm wondering if my pattern pieces did get a bit stretched out throughout the construction process as the fit isn't quite what I hoped. It's not terrible by any means and I feel very comfortable in it but it is slightly loose, especially around the waist and doesn't have as much shape as I feel like it should because of that. I feel like I want it to nip in a little more at my narrowest point and then flare out into the skirt. it doesn't help that the softness of the viscose means that the skirt hangs a little limp whereas a fabric with more body would emphasise the slightly flared shape. The drape of the viscose does however give the dress quite amazing movement as you walk or in the wind which is a great combination with the front split created by the buttons that finish just above the knee.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Nina Lee London Kew Dress in Dahlia Floral Viscose Crepe from Til the Sun Goes Down

It is my first time making a Nina Lee design so I'm not 100% sure if the fit is due to my handling of the fabric or the pattern. It could be that my proportions don't quite suit her block so I need to make a couple of small adjustments next time. I cut size 8 at the bust and graded out to a 10 at the waist and hips. I would have been able to get away with the straight 8 despite the measurements being an inch smaller at the waist and two at the hip but will make a quick toile before making in anything stiffer. I made no other adjustments, even to the length. I love the way the hem dips down towards the back and the straps are a good width and position to cover bra straps.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Nina Lee London Kew Dress in Dahlia Floral Viscose Crepe from Til the Sun Goes Down

For a first time with a new pattern company I was super impressed with both the pattern and instructions. Everything came together really smoothly, the finishing techniques are great and I loved making it. I would recommend not giving yourself a tight deadline on this one though so you can take your time and enjoy the process. There's a lot of pattern pieces to contend with and even more buttons and buttonholes to sew! That does take some time and is quite frustrating as you are so close to the end but well worth it for the finished look. My buttons are from The Cloth House on Berwick Street. I loved the slightly worn vintage feel of them against the fabric. I could have picked out any colour in the print with the buttons but felt black balanced it best after trying a few. I did the button holes in white thread and sewed the buttons on with white too so it didn't get too solid black.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Nina Lee London Kew Dress in Dahlia Floral Viscose Crepe from Til the Sun Goes Down

I wondered if the cold shoulder sleeves would be a but restrictive to arm movement but they have been drafted perfectly to hold their shape but still give you a bit of room. Its not a dress to be particularly physical in but I can comfortably lift a gin/pint/glass of wine in a pub garden so that suits me fine! I shortened the shoulder straps by about an inch and they could probably do with a little more as they slip off the shoulder. But the dress stays up without them which speaks to a good fit across the bust! The darts are spot on for me. The only thing I'm not happy with in the bust area is that the centre of the neckline where it buttons doesn't sit quite flat. Again a slightly more structured fabric would support this better. I did use a fusible, lightweight interfacing on the facings and wouldn't want to use anything heavier combined with this fabric but the viscose doesn't keep quite as crisp an edge as I would like around that neckline, despite under-stitching.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Nina Lee London Kew Dress in Dahlia Floral Viscose Crepe from Til the Sun Goes Down

Whilst I love this dress and have been really enjoying wearing it I'd really like to make it again in a cotton lawn or something slightly crispier. A crisp fabric is really not my usual choice for a dress so I've kind of surprised myself by saying that but I think I'd love a strappy version with a little more structure. Perhaps a seersucker would be a good choice as it has some body but still a bit of softness.

It looks set to be another scorcher this weekend so I'm sure this dress will be getting another outing! Thank you Andree for the stunning fabric and Nina for the gorgeous pattern. Her new Mayfair Dress is next on my list! 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

June Indie Pattern Update!



June has been an incredibly busy month for me which has left me incredibly frustrated as I had so little time to spend on my sewing machine! I can't wait to get some quality sewing time in and my teeth stuck into the next big project, especially after seeing some of the inspiring new pattern releases this month! I don't think I've been so good at keeping up with the indie sewing new and pattern launches this month so please do add in anything you'd like to share in the comments and make sure to check out each-other's recommendations.


New Pattern Companies!


  • The ever so talented Claire-Louise A.K.A the Thrifty Stitcher has launched a new line of patterns available through the Sewing Quarter and her website in paper format. Her first pattern is the Fiona Hobo Bag (I particularly like the name of course!) and the second is soon to follow.


New Patterns


  • So this list is usually in no particular order but when the pattern is your namesake I think it deserves to be top of the queue right?! The Fiona Sundress is the latest release from Closet Case Patterns and is a true stunner. I was their pattern muse this time around and Heather Lou has basically created my dream dress! I am so stunned and touched. Both views have a button up front and princess seamed bodice. View A has wide straps and a midi-length column skirt with side vents and View B has a gorgeous low back with cross straps and the option for a mini or below knee length skirt. Be prepared for this blog to be filled with them.
  • Style Arc released the Annabelle Woven Dress which is a sleek and sophisticated wrap style. The pattern features an optional small double edged ruffle along the bodice wrap edge and cuffs for the cap sleeves. They also launched the Catalina Designer Dress which has statement balloon sleeves which are pleated into a raglan shoulder seam.
  • The new collection from Trend Patterns is formed of three stunning new designs. The TPC20 Shirt & Shirtdress and TPC19 Slip Dress are both classic styles with their unique twist but my favourite of the bunch is the TPC18 Twist Dress which has a flattering relaxed cut and twist feature in the front which can be made at the centre or off to one side.
  • The two new patterns released with Seamwork Magazine this month work well together when made in the same fabric as a kind of faux romper. The Kristin Top is a boxy cropped style which wraps around the body and has three armholes and no fastening. The Heidi Shorts also have a relaxed fit with high pleated waist and the member exclusive pattern bonus this month turned these into a skort. 
  • I mentioned that Merchant & Mills released the Gyo Top & Dress last month but completely missed that they also released the Francine Top, Clementine Skirt, Ottoline Shirt and Heroine Jeans. I thought I'd include them this month as these gorgeous workwear inspired designs are all definitely worth attention!
  • Sarah Kirsten sent out the Walnut Wrap Skirt as a free download for newsletter subscribers. The download includes instructions to draft and sew your own cute streamlined wrap design.
  • New from Tessuti is the Hazelwood Top. This is going high on my sewing list for autumn. I love the relaxed funnel neck and swinging a-line shape which is emphasised in sturdier knits. They also released the Felicia Pinafore Dress. A simple shape for any season with sleeveless bodice, slightly dropped waist and gathered skirt.
  • The Emma Racer Back Slip and Bralette is new from Measure Twice Cut Once. The pattern is designed for knits and features a slim racer back and cups shaped with gentle gathering. I love the simple sophistication of this and the binding finish.
  • Making Patterns Fly released the Top Halter which is a gorgeous simple lined design which would look best in really lightweight, floaty fabrics like the sample. The halter neck is gathered front and back with a tie.
  • Itch to Stitch released the Crystal Cove Cami which has a relaxed fit and spaghetti straps. It features an overlapping back with curved hem which would be lovely and cool in the heat of summer. The pattern comes with pieces for A-DD cup.
  • The Libby Shirt was Sew Over It's PDF pattern release of the month. It is a cropped style with a relaxed fit, open notched collar and short grown on sleeves with cuffs. This would look great made up in a fun rayon print and paired with jeans.
  • The new Ulysses Trench from Victory Patterns has caused quite the stir on social media and it is easy to see why! Despite my brain being filled with summer sewing ideas this has made me think about sewing for next season; definitely one for the wish-list. It is a contemporary draped take on the classic trench with beautiful and clever details such as the belt loops being part of the rear storm flap.
  • Nina Lee released what is basically my dream dress pattern in the form of the Mayfair Dress. I've got one RTW summer maxi dress which is so old and well worn that it has holes in but I've been too lazy to try and recreate. This jersey design is pretty much a dead ringer and I'm so excited to make multiple versions! The dress features a gathered front with grown on collar and waist ties and you have the option to make maxi or knee length as well as three sleeve lengths to chose from.
  • The new releases from Mood Fabrics this month included the Rowan Dress and Rosa Blouse the glamorous cut out sleeve of which I love. They also released the Rosemary Blazer, Sage Shorts and Solandra Gown which features a silk chiffon cape.
  • The Clare Dress is new from DG Patterns; a knit faux wrap dress with gathered skirt and gorgeous open flared sleeves. They also released the Silvia Top & Dress which is a knit design with flared sleeves and shape provided by the shirring across the front waist.
  • Louis Antoinette Swing in PDF format
  • The new Roksi Trio from Amy Nicole Studio is a clever design including a swing style crop top, tank and dress. All three elements can be layered over one another for a tiered look plus each element is reversible so you can mix and match to your hearts content.
  • Tessuti Felicia Pinafore Dress
  • Issue 3 of Lisa Comfort magazine is out now and includes the Lottie Dress pattern; a simple, strappy summer classic with a button-up front. She has also added a couple of summer designs to her new Poppy and Jazz line, both of which make for a very co-ordinated little look. They are the Raspberry Romper & Hat and Daffodil Dress & Pants.
  • Wearologie released the Aestiva Sleeveless Vest. It can be made either short at waist length with a waistband and mandarin collar or in a longer length which I love the drama of! I think this would look great made up in linen and layered over a breezy linen dress of a different shade. 
  • New from Hot Patterns this month are the HP 1235 Riviera Deauville Pull-On Pants and HP1234 Wong-Singh-Jones Kimono Shirt-Jacket which a a truly beautiful elegant pyjama style top with kimono sleeves. I'd love to make this up in a dramatic silk satin print.
  • Simple Sew released the Tara Button-Back Dress. It has an empire line bodice, short sleeves and detail in the back which buttons all the way down.
  • Greenstyle Creations have released some real gems of late. The Havana Dress is the latest and the Bohemian maxi vibe is right up my street. There are three lovely back options including a racer shape, low scoop and the unique lace up style which is my personal favourite.
  • The Perkins Shirt Dress is new from Ensemble Patterns. It has a relaxed fit, grown on cuffed short sleeves and either a gathered or flat yoke. All four lengths of this look really contemporary and wearable and my personal favourite is the dress with side slits.
  • Goheen Designs released the Huxley Backpack. I've been thinking about making myself a practical bag and this could be just the ticket. The larger size is big enough for my laptop and it can convert from backpack to crossbody bag to bike bag. You can also make it with or without the lid flap.
  • The Brome Dress & Top is new from Fancy Tiger Crafts and is available in both paper and PDF format. It offers three sleeve options and three lengths with lots of lovely details to sew including a front placket, narrow band collar and cuff bands.
  • The new Carmen Flounce Skirt from Designer Stitch has all the appeal of an on trend ruffled wrap skirt with non of the wind issues as it is a clever mock wrap style. I think they've got the proportions of the frill just right.
  • Wardrobe by Me released a new men's pattern in the form of Cargo Shorts. They have been well thought out with deep pleated side pockets and back reinforcement. A really great practical and wearable project to make for you men or the men in your life. 
  • The Pixie Tee is the latest release from Chalk & Notch and has a relaxed fit with two sleeve options and either a hem band or gathered hem ties. 
  • PM Patterns have just released Suùn; a dress or top for women with a v-neck line created by gathering fabric into the shoulder yoke and which has three depths to choose from. I love the sample that has piping along the gathered shoulder yoke seam, what a lovely detail.
  • The Kirei Camisole pattern is new from Blank Slate Patterns. The knit design includes the option for a built in shelf bra and the choice between a fitted or swinging body skimming fit.
  • The ladies from Smyly Magazine have launched the Abi Jumpsuit. Designed for knits the sleek style has the option for wide or tailored and cropped, long or short length legs. It makes use of the bodice from their Samantha Dress so if you already own this you can purchase an add on of just the trouser pieces.
  • Now available on freesewing.org is the Penelope Pencil Skirt which is a classic fitted design. This heralds the beginning of a number of new womenswear patterns on the site, the next being for a circle skirt.
  • Madalynne released a new pattern in collaboration with Simplicity. The 8711 pattern includes an underwired bralette, with a floating bridge to hold a continuous monowire for support and also a pair of undies with a ruffle feature at the back.
  • Released just yesterday are two new designs from Tilly & The Buttons. The Stevie Top or Tunic Dress has a modern boxy fit with the choice of ties or button loop closure at the back. The Seren Dress is a classic button up strappy summer dress with the option to add a neckline flounce.


Pattern updates and expansions




Sew-alongs, Tutorials and Online Courses


  • Megan Nielsen has been running a detailed sew-along for her recently released River Dress & Top. The tutorials include two methods of sleeve insertion and tips and tricks for making this design in both wovens and knits.
  • The True Bias Yari Jumpsuit sew-along posts are now all up including a hack to make yours with a long tie around the waist instead of the short straps and d-rings to cinch it in.
  • To celebrate the Suki Kimono being June's #sewmystyle Helen from Helen's Closet has been running a sew-along for the pattern over on her blog. It has been super in depth with a few alternative construction methods and hack ideas thrown in so worth a look.
  • Love Notions have been running a sew-along for their Cadence Dress & Top including some really useful posts on fitting and adjustments you can make.
  • Gertie is hosting a sew-along for her B6556 dress pattern on her blog and facebook. If you join the facebook group you can have a good chat about your project, post photos and share/ask for fitting tips and advice.
  • Fancy Tiger Crafts have been posting a series of instructional videos for sewing their latest pattern, the Brome Dress & Top. There area number of fiddly details involved in this dress including cuff bands and partial plackets so I think this is a great resource.
  • A complete guide and sew-along for sewing Madalynne's new underwired bralette and ruffle undie pattern with Simplicity can be downloaded here.


Upcoming!


  • Gabby let us in on the news that she is going to be launching Gabberdashery Patterns soon! Gabby is working with the very talented Barbara A.K.A Rocking Stitch and they are recording their progress on Gabby's Youtube channel.
  • Jennifer Lauren Handmade will soon be releasing the Raine Dress; a summer dress with a vintage vibe, two views and pockets!
  • There is a new website launching soon which will be purely dedicated to maternity sewing! The site will be THE place to find maternity specific and 'maternity friendly' sewing patterns.
  • Halfmoon Atelier have not one but two patterns coming in the next few days. I already love the look of the summer jumpsuit and the Wells Bay Bikini is reversible!
  • Afternoon Patterns will be launching their latest design, the Sparrow Wrap Dress on Monday!


Other Exciting News






  • I'm a little bit in love with the striped BurdaStyle Wrap Dress Jade has made! So chic and modern. I adore her use of stripes and monochrome and the whole styling of this outfit is spot on.
  • Lauren's cropped linen version of the Kalle Shirt has made me see the pattern in a totally different light. I love it with a little structure, paired with denim and in a classic white. A true summer wardrobe staple.
  • I could not resist sharing Emily's Omer Jacket with you. This pattern really grabbed me when I saw it in La Maison Victor magazine, I love all those pocket, zip and topstitching details and she made a great fabric choice with a waxed cotton.
  • Sara's Myosotis Dress is absolutely dreamy. I almost splurged on some of this Blackbird Fabrics viscose a while back and now I really wish I had. One of those sewing projects that I wish I owned. It will transition really well into winter with tights too.
  • No one knows how to showcase a bold and beautiful fabric better than Marcy. I love how simply she has done it here with her hack of the Ogden Cami, adding a ruffled skirt to make a breezy summer dress.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Orange Linen Erin Skirt & Blush Satin Ogden Cami

Sometimes a simple design is all you need to showcase a spectacular fabric and that is certainly the case for this skirt. The Cloth Shop has to be one of my favourite fabric shops in London and is well worth the trip over to Ladbroke Grove if you haven't been there already. Its not particularly cheap but the fabrics are all beautiful; natural fibres, gorgeous colours and block prints and top quality. They also stock a particularly wonderful selection of Indian trimmings which are very reasonably priced and a selection of handcrafted household items. Its a delightful shopping experience and a treat for the eyes! This is their washed linen in 'Seville'; an irresistible shade of burnt orange. It is soft, weighty, with a gorgeous drape and slubby texture. It's £26 a metre in the plain colours and I only needed a metre for this skirt so not bad considering the quality. It does wrinkle up considerably over the course of a day but I like that look and it presses, washes and sews well.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Cloth Shop Orange Linen Sew Over It Erin Skirt and The Fabric Store Blush Viscose Satin True Bias Ogden Cami

I had been thinking about using this linen for a summer version of the Berlin Skirt but as my previous version wasn't quite the success I hoped for I re-thought the plan. This is the Erin Skirt from the Sew Over It My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break ebook, a simple, fitted, button-up style. I cut between the size 8 and 10 as I usually do for Sew Over It patterns and it fits a treat. I was concerned about how practical this shape would be for my day to day life as I need to move around a lot but this actually has a much straighter cut than a pencil skirt and the perfect amount of ease to be comfortable. Initially the skirt was hitting at a midi length which is a bit longer than intended by the pattern. It didn't look bad but I had in mind a few helpful comments left on my Berlin Skirt post and was wary of it hitting at the widest part of my calf which can have a less than desirable effect proportionally. I kept pinning the hem up higher and higher and assessing the look, pinning each side at a different height so I could compare the difference. Eventually I decided that just above the knee like this felt most 'me'. For reference, I'm 5ft3" and I took 4.5" off the length and used 1/2" then 1" inch for the hem. The pattern suggests 5/8" but I liked the look of the wider hem.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Cloth Shop Orange Linen Sew Over It Erin Skirt and The Fabric Store Blush Viscose Satin True Bias Ogden Cami

The skirt was so quick to sew; after cutting it probably took me a couple of hours. It came together beautifully and as a result was so much fun to sew. The linen is a dream to work with and the pattern is well drafted with clear instructions as usual. This is the third pattern I have made from the My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break ebook (see my Mia Jeans and Molly Top) and it really is a cracker and great value for money. I wasn't blown away by any of the patterns when it was first released but am so pleased I remembered my copy as all five designs are true classic wardrobe staples. None of the designs scream 'ooo this is just so you!' but each one has been worn much more often than I expected. Good fit, good drafting and simple but well thought out designs and construction.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Cloth Shop Orange Linen Sew Over It Erin Skirt and The Fabric Store Blush Viscose Satin True Bias Ogden Cami

I came across one odd wooden button in my stash which I thought looked great with the fabric and had a feeling I bought it in Cloth Houseas  a sample for a show I was working on but unfortunately I either got the source wrong or they've long since sold out! I luckily happened across something very similar in Liberty of all places. I wouldn't usually shop for buttons in there but was on the hunt for a present for a friend and was pleasantly surprised to discover that these were only 40p a button, much cheaper than the original I was hunting for. There's a slightly coppery tone in the wood which I think works really well with the orange. The pattern requests 25mm buttons but these are in fact 20mm. I always err on the side of slightly smaller than recommended with buttons as there's something about a really big button that makes a garment shout 'I'm homemade!' to me.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Cloth Shop Orange Linen Sew Over It Erin Skirt and The Fabric Store Blush Viscose Satin True Bias Ogden Cami

I did find that the buttonhole markings given on the pattern pieces weren't particularly useful once the skirt was assembled. They didn't seem to be central on the placket so I used them as guidance for spacing but marked my own. I also lost track of the marking on the waistband which I think ended up on the centre front edge rather than in a useful button position so again marked my own. I think a beginner would benefit from more guidance for this step as the instructions say to simply 'mark your buttonholes using the guide on the pattern' and notes that the top one should be horizontal and the rest vertical. You want that top buttonhole to be slightly off centre to keep the waistband closed at the right position. On a close fitting style like this the button will naturally pull to the far end of the hole so you want that position to be in line with the centre front and other buttonholes. If the centre of the buttonhole is on the centre line things will end up askew when the skirt is worn.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Cloth Shop Orange Linen Sew Over It Erin Skirt and The Fabric Store Blush Viscose Satin True Bias Ogden Cami

The pattern suggests you only need interfacing if you are using a lightweight fabric but as my linen is pretty soft compared to the denim which I think the pattern is designed for I opted to use a lightweight woven fusible on the waistband and centre front edges where the buttons are. I did a little sample on a scrap first to check that it wouldn't ruin the drape and movement of the fabric and think I made a good decision. It adds a little crispness and strength to those edges.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Cloth Shop Orange Linen Sew Over It Erin Skirt and The Fabric Store Blush Viscose Satin True Bias Ogden Cami

I really like the topstitching detail on this pattern, there are double lines along the pocket opening and placket edges and then a single line around the waistband and along the hem. I think a little bit of topstitching can really help a garment look professional and less home made don't you? I picked the colour of the thread from memory as I forgot to take a sample with me and I'm ironically kicking myself for making such a good guess as you can hardly see the lovely topstitching which I am really pleased with, even around those tricky corners on the waistband!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Cloth Shop Orange Linen Sew Over It Erin Skirt and The Fabric Store Blush Viscose Satin True Bias Ogden Cami

The top in these photos is also a new addition to my handmade wardrobe and I'm sure many of you recognise it as the Ogden Cami by True Bias. I don't have a huge amount to say about the pattern as I now have no less than six (yes six, see a couple here) versions of this beautiful little basic in my wardrobe, some of which I have hacked the pattern around a bit for. I've made it up in a wide variety of fabrics, all of which have turned out great but given very different results. This is sewn up in Blush Viscose Satin Twill from The Fabric Store, which is stocked in a variety of colours. The viscose is slinky and slippery yet the twill weave provides a slightly crispier finish with a little more body than you'd expect from a silk satin. It certainly makes a great summer top that is cool and comfortable against the skin. I think these fabrics would be absolutely fantastic used as linings for coats, skirts or dresses. It feels a bit more robust than silk so would probably withstand a good bit of wear and tear. I'll report back after this one has had a good number of goes through the wash!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Cloth Shop Orange Linen Sew Over It Erin Skirt and The Fabric Store Blush Viscose Satin True Bias Ogden Cami

I cut the size 4 and shortened the straps by 2" as with every other previous version of the pattern and am happy with the fit and ease. The slippery satin was indeed very tricky to cut and sew, particularly around where the straps meet the neckline. This is a fiddly bit of sewing in any case that requires some patience and in this instance I used extra pins and a short stitch length to ensure accuracy and strength. I french seamed the side seams (the satin does fray quite badly but presses well) and as usual used pinking shears to finish the neckline seam as it also does the job of notching those curved edges for you!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Cloth Shop Orange Linen Sew Over It Erin Skirt and The Fabric Store Blush Viscose Satin True Bias Ogden Cami

I absolutely love this combination of blush pink and burnt orange. It was a bit of a happy accident as both projects ended up on my sewing table at the same time and I just adored the combination of warm tones and differing tactile textures together. It has become a favourite summer outfit and despite not being much of a pink wearer I've since ordered some soft pink merino jersey for a cardigan so I can integrate a bit more of this delicious colour combo into my wardrobe. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Textured Ponte Inari Tee Dress

This little number has jumped the blogging queue as I wore it a few times during Me-Made-May and got a lot of questions on Instagram about pattern and fabric details and what alterations I made. I thought it was worth answering them in a proper blog post. Plus any garment which gets worn three times in the two weeks after you finish it (despite the fact that I was trying to mix things up for May!) deserves sharing and documenting promptly!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Inari Tee Dress in Pink Textured Ponte Knit from Sew Over It

The Inari Tee Dress from Named Clothing has been a big hit within the online sewing community and it has been on my wish-list for a long time despite me having some reservations about how the style would suit me. I dipped my toe in the water last year with a woven version of the cropped tee which I never actually blogged as despite still wearing it on the odd occasion I didn't count it as a huge success and haven't yet figured out the best way to style it. The fit isn't fantastic on me and it looks very square, sticking out below the chest in an odd way. Perhaps I chose a fabric with too much body? I was disappointed as Named patterns generally seem to fit me well and some of my favourite handmade garments are their designs (see here and here!).

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Inari Tee Dress in Pink Textured Ponte Knit from Sew Over It

Anyway, that experience slightly put me off and apart from the odd reminder when a beautiful version popped up in my blog feed I had almost forgotten about my plans to try the dress. Boy am I glad I remembered though! This project actually started with the fabric as unusually for me I made a fabric purchase without a specific project in mind. I'd popped in to Sew Over It to buy another piece of fabric I had spotted on their website and fell in love with the texture and subtle pattern of this unusual ponte knit (unfortunately no longer available). Quite a light weight for a ponte knit, it has a nice drape and movement too it along with the stability and structure you would expect. The diamond pattern is woven through the fabric and as well as variation in the colour there is a slight variation in the thickness and texture of the weave which is really lovely. It is a polyester so gets a little sticky when it is really hot but not unreasonably so and apart from that has been comfortable to wear and delightful to work with.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Inari Tee Dress in Pink Textured Ponte Knit from Sew Over It

I've never been much of a pink wearer so this spontaneous fabric choice rather surprised me but I'm actually loving it. I've found myself quite drawn to dusky and blush shades recently and have just ordered some soft pink merino for a cardigan too; I think it must be that subconscious absorption of the current trends! It took me a while to decide what to make with it as I was worried the colour was a bit too close to my skin tone to use for a dress and might wash me out. After mulling it over I took the plunge anyway and raided my pattern stash for knit dress patterns. I emerged with the Inari and after a quick google of other makes decided it was the ideal candidate.

The fabric is a great match for this design. It has a decent amount of stretch combined with a lovely drape but still maintains a bit of structure which is useful to hold the split hem feature of this design. The hem vents and hem itself do have the potential to get stretched out and wavy in a knit. Luckily the stability of this particularly knit gave me no problems but if you're having trouble with yours I recommend stabilising the area first by using a fusible stay tape or 'Steam-a-Seam' along the stitching line.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Inari Tee Dress in Pink Textured Ponte Knit from Sew Over It

As for the pattern now I've figured out how to alter it to suit my body shape and proportions I'm completely in love! It is incredibly comfortable but feels really chic and looks as good at the end of the day as the start. The design is elevated above being a basic t-shirt dress by some simple, carefully chosen design elements. The hem vents are a really contemporary simple touch and that neckline sits beautifully. The shape and size is spot on for my personal preferences. The side seams of the dress gently curve towards the front which is really clever. As well as giving shape to the dress they bring those side seam slits around towards the front making them more pronounced.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Inari Tee Dress in Pink Textured Ponte Knit from Sew Over It

I think what has put me off of making this before is that I wasn't sure how the oversized, slightly cocoon shape would suit me and unfortunately I definitely didn't love this when I first tried it on after sewing the side seams. I increased the seam allowance (right the way up under the arm) to 1" instead of the requested 1cm but it didn't make much of a difference to how I felt in it. I don't know why this design looks so great on everyone but on my body shape it just feels like a tent! Was it my fabric choice? Or just that I'm not used to seeing myself in this shape? Luckily I had a flash of inspiration and the current trend for tie belts saved the day! I wanted to go with quite a chunky dramatic belt but the leftover fabric determined a fairly slim and long one instead which I now love. It has totally transformed how I feel about the dress and I think the combo of longer length plus belt really works.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Inari Tee Dress in Pink Textured Ponte Knit from Sew Over It

I added 5 inches to the length as when I did a Google/Instagram search of the pattern I tended to prefer those that were a little longer. I guessed at 5" by holding the pattern piece up against me and going a bit longer than I thought I needed figuring I could always take a bit off when hemming. In the end it turned out perfect. I'm 5ft 3" in case you're thinking of doing the same. I extended the side slits by 2" as I felt that would better suit the proportions of the longer length and I really like this. I love how the dress moves as I walk as a result. I'm really glad I went with the midi length as I think above the knee with those slits would feel a lot less practical. You also need a little extra length to accommodate what is taken up when you tie a belt around it. Make sure to tie the belt around the dress when putting it on to decide hem length as it affects how it hangs quite dramatically.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Inari Tee Dress in Pink Textured Ponte Knit from Sew Over It

I definitely prefer this design in a knit and am now kicking myself that I didn't get around to making it sooner. There's something about the drafting of the sleeve/armhole that feels a bit restrictive in a woven. Everything sits a bit better in a knit and allows for comfortable movement. I cut the size 38 as always. Usually with Named patterns this is pretty much spot on with no alterations. This didn't work for me in the woven but is great in the knit, particularly now I've taken it in under the arm an extra bit. For reference my measurements are roughly 34" bust, 27" waist and 38" hip. I had 1.5m of the fabric and had just enough to squeeze out my tie belt once I'd cut the dress with the extra length.

I veered off the instructions and resorted to my normal order of construction for tees. I attached the neckband as the second step after assembling the shoulder seams and after this inserted the sleeves flat, sewing the side seams and under arm as one before attaching the cuff bands in the round as the final step. This pattern is designed for both woven fabrics and knits and I think the instructions slightly favour construction for wovens. I used a short and narrow zig zag stitch on my regular machine for accurate construction with a size 90 stretch needle. I finished all my seams on the overlocker and used twin needle topstitching to secure the neckband in place. You don't need to worry too much about the stretch of your stitches with this design as it doesn't have any negative ease.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Inari Tee Dress in Pink Textured Ponte Knit from Sew Over It

This was such a great project for me right now as I've got hardly any time to sew but am feeling really inspired to do so and have quite an overwhelming sewing queue and pile of fabric in front of me! This is really speedy to sew, about 3 hours including cutting, so felt great to have actually finished and achieved something. The only problem is I've now just increased my sewing queue because I want to make more of the same dress! Every fabric shop I go in now I've got my eyes peeled for interesting knits of a good mid weight!