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!

Thursday, 31 May 2018

May Indie Pattern Update!



The pattern releases have been coming thick and fast throughout May, I've been struggling to keep up! There are some absolutely gorgeous new releases plus sneaky peeks of upcoming patterns to tempt you. I must admit I've already bought and sewn a couple of the new patterns in this list, they were so irresistible! Taking part in Me-Made-May has really fired up my sew-jo as I've identified gaps in my handmade wardrobe. Plus the change of seasons always makes me more motivated and excited about sewing new and different things. I just wish I had more time to sew them all! I'll crack on with the good stuff you came here for...


New Pattern Companies!




New Patterns


  • Jennifer Lauren Handmade released the Pippi Pinafore which is a more feminine take on the popular overall dress. The dress is partially lined with an a-line skirt and patch pockets but the best feature is the fitted bib which comes with multiple cup size options making this style more accessible to curvier ladies!
  • New from Closet Case Patterns are the Jenny Overalls and Trousers! These are a modern take on the vintage workwear trend with a wide cropped leg and ultra high rise. I'm particularly taken by the shorts variation and may be changing my summer sewing plans yet again!
  • The two new patterns released with this month's edition of Seamwork Magazine by Colette Patterns were dresses! I must admit I'm incredibly tempted to sew up the Lane Dress which is a figure flattering column dress for knits with waist ties. I might just have the perfect fabric in my stash! The Amber Dress is a contemporary take on a peasant style sundress with gathered tiered skirt.
  • Style Arc kicked off the month with two new oversized shirt patterns. The Phoebe Overshirt is a classic mens style with a statement double cuff but I particularly like the seam lines and swing shape of the Martha Overshirt. The way the short sleeves and pointed side panels grow out of the yoke is a really interesting feature. Mid-month they released the Fifi Woven Pant and Flick Knit Top.
  • I'm not usually one to impulse buy a pattern on release but thats exactly what I did with the new Myosotis Dress which is part of the new collection from Deer & Doe. Here's my version; that swinging boho style is what I want to wear all summer long! The other two designs are pretty stellar too; the Narcisse Pants have a classic high-waisted wide leg cut and the Nénuphar Jacket is a kimono style which I would absolutely wear both variations of.
  • This month started with a big flurry of beautiful, well designed new patterns. The Decades of Style TLC 107 Kaftan is no exception. Its a dramatic pullover design with pockets and waist ties that thread through inside to give definition at the waist.
  • The joy continued with the new Hilo Dress from Friday Pattern Company who continue to produce some really unique and wearable designs. This is a flowing bohemian knit dress with a layered bodice and the option to make with a super low scooped back.
  • Mood's first free pattern download release of the month was to celebrate Star Wars day! The Delta Cosplay is a mens style based on Hans' jacket. Their second cosplay release was Enif inspired by Deadpool. They also released the Nolana Jeans, Oak Jacket, Piper Shorts, Orchid DressPhoenix Swimsuit (with on trend off shoulder ruffle) and their first maternity pattern, The Olea Shirt. The top portion of the Petunia Romper has caught my eye; love that wrap front and cut out combo.
  • New from Designer Stitch is the Eden Jumpsuit which offers a lot of style choices with a cropped or short leg, sleeveless or cold shoulder sleeve and the option to make as a simple wide leg trouser with elasticated waist.
  • Schnittchen released the Anoush Pants and Shorts. The main feature of these are the unique large curved pocket openings which curve around the hips to the back. They also released the Carmen Shirt and Dress which is either hip or maxi length with double ended darts for shaping through the back. The on trend cold shoulder look is created by the wide ruffle running across the chest and continuing into sleeves.
  • The new releases from DG Patterns this month included the Dana Top, Chelsea Top and Micaela Top and Dress. Micaela is a sporty knit tee with hem vents, Chelsea a tiered pussy bow style and I think I might give Dana a whirl, I love the boxy wrap style and the way it ties at the hip.
  • The Danube Jean Skirt is the lastest design from Itch to Stitch and is a beautiful fitted denim skirt with all the classic jeans style features and side slits. Kennis always creates such classy timeless designs and this is a true wardrobe staple for all ages. She also released the Nottingham Top which is a satisfying, speedy to sew t-shirt with knot detail at the centre front hem.
  • Dessine Moi Un Patron released the Ivy Skirt which is a tiered maxi skirt. I really like the proportions of this and the way it skims the hips then flares out dramatically. Got my eye on that for summer! 
  • The Phoenix Blouse is the latest release from Hey June Handmade. I love this, particularly with the 3/4 length bell sleeves. It appeals to the part of me that loves a bit of bohemian summer style and it could be a real winner with the jeans in my wardrobe.
  • Colette Patterns released the Gwen Dress and Camisole. Its a simple slip style with french finished princess seams and side vents along with the option to add a flounce to the straps. As with all their patterns going forward this is a PDF only release.
  • Thread Theory released their next menswear pattern; the Sayward Raglan. A classic mens raglan tee that promises to be a speedy sew...might this encourage some of us to do a bit more sewing for the men in our lives?! This is the first in a number of new designs coming from them
  • Daughters of Style launched two new designs this month; the Winona Shirt is an oversize style with overlapping back and shirttail hem and the Liv T-Shirt and Dress is a sweatshirt style with long sleeves gathered on to a dropped shoulder.
  • The Sew Over It PDF pattern release of the month was the Lucia Top. It features an off the shoulder frill around the neckline and has long sleeves which is a great pairing I've never thought of. This would look great made in different fabrics for a casual or dressed up look.
  • The new James Knit Pant from Fresh Press Patterns promises the look of a trouser but the comfort of a legging! The design features a tailored straight cut, centre front invisible zip fastening and contoured waistband. 
  • The Hérens Bathrobe and Robe is new from Opian Patterns and is a really cute and practical design. The robe features a curved hem, inseam pockets and (my favourite feature) little pleats at the shoulders. I love the neat yet relaxed fit of this, Chloé has hit on a great balance.
  • The latest release from CocoWawa Crafts could be just the dress my summer wardrobe needs! The Honeycomb Shirt & Dress features a centre front button placket and small stand collar but my favourite design element are the little bow ties which pull the waist in at either side.
  • Merchant & Mills released the Gyo Top & Dress which is a Japanese inspired asymmetrical design which would look gorgeous made up in a linen, double gauze or seersucker for summer.
  • New from Pier and Palace is the Pico Wrap Dress. Jumping onboard with the wrap dress trend they take inspiration for theirs from the Japanese kimono which shows clearly in that beautiful wide obi belt. I also really like the angled armholes and centre front hem.
  • Cashmerette launched the Ipswich Swimsuit which like all of Jenny's patterns is designed with plus-sized ladies in mind. The suit features supportive straps and the option to add a pretty incredible looking underwired foam swim bra and boning along with the choice of one piece or bikini.
  • Wardrobe By Me released two new patterns this month. The first is the Summer Skirt which is a wrap style and features two ruffle options plus a contoured waistband, elasticated at the back for comfort. They also released the Classic T-Shirt which would be perfect for that nineties crew neck and jeans look.
  • Made by Rae released Jade which is a knit top with multiple mix and match sleeve and neckline options. There's either a boat neck or ballet neckline to choose from and elements of this can be mixed with her Isla pattern for even more mileage.
  • New from Waffle Patterns is the Pine Yoke Blouse. The design is semi-fitted with a front a back yoke with box pleat beneath. I like the button back fastening and option to make with a high collar or round neck.
  • How To Do Fashion launched their No.13 Paris pattern which is an absolutely gorgeous 1960s wiggle dress design with asymmetrical features. So chic!
  • The York Pinafore is the latest release from Helen's Closet. It has a lovely cocoon shape and scooped sides and offers two choices of length, neckline and pockets which you can mix and match to create your perfect style.
  • There is a new free pattern available from In The Folds for Peppermint Magazine. This time it is a gorgeous pair of Wide-Leg Pants which feature a fly front, pockets and a shaped waistband.
  • DP Studio released their fourth collection of patterns. The Spring/Summer 2018 Collection is of their usual unique style and includes this fab workwear inspired jumpsuit, a beautiful strapless dress, versatile shirtdress and fashion forward jeans amongst many others. Make sure to check out the line drawings to really appreciate these. I'm about to cut out a pattern from one of their earlier collections so will let you know how I get on!
  • The Tabor V-Neck is the latest release from Sew House Seven and it is a t-shirt, crop top and sweater for all seasons! It has a few different hem styles, sleeve styles and necklines to choose from. My favourite is the combination of deep v-neck with wide band an a dropped shoulder.
  • True Bias launched the Yari Jumpsuit which has a relaxed fit with cute little straps with d-rings at the sides to cinch it in at the waist. It has four views including sleeveless and small extended sleeves plus shorts or a tapered leg. I think it could be a great match for some soft chambray I have in my stash!
  • Ploen Patterns released the Astrid Skirt which is a really cute little button up flared style. It looks great in the crisp striped fabric they picked for the sample. Available in 12 sizes in PDF format.
  • New from Green Style Creations is the North Shore Swimsuit. The pattern includes a one piece cutaway swimsuit and a bikini option with an incredible amount of variations to choose from. There are six front styles and sizes back styles to mix and match for the top and four bottom options with different levels of coverage. A great purchase if you need a lot of swimwear.
  • 5 out of 4 Patterns released the Stella Romper (which also comes in a girls version for those of you who sew for the little ones in your life!). This relaxed little number with off the shoulder ruffle neckline can be made as a one piece or separate tank and shorts.
  • Last but by no means least The Maker's Atelier released The Sun Dress just this morning! This is a relaxed, breezy style for super hot days and features a curved drawstring hem with scooped back neckline.


Pattern updates and expansions


  • The Tailoress has been working on updating a few of her patterns over the last month. Her dog clothing patterns (Jasra Tee and Toby Jumper) have an improved, less bulky fit and the Sabrina Swimsuit now features slimmer ties with a slightly different placement and fit.


Sew-alongs, Tutorials and Online Courses


  • Megan Nielsen has been running a thorough sew-along for her new Ash Jeans. So useful for all those little construction elements of jeans sewing that will be new to many, including the dreaded fly front! Her samples are beautifully made so I have been keeping my eyes peeled for new tips.
  • Thread Theory have posted a speedy sew-along for their new mens Sayward Raglan. A great one for beginners looking to pick up tips on sewing with knits, especially those looking to branch out with their first menswear project! 
  • Helen from Helen's Closet will be running a sew-along in June for her Suki Kimono pattern to coincide with being the chosen pattern for the month for project #sewmystyle.
  • Alongside the release of her new Ipswich Swimsuit, Jenny from Cashmerette has launched 'Swimsuit Making for Curves'; an online course formed of video tutorials guiding you through the process of sewing your own supportive swimsuit.


Upcoming!


  • I am SO excited to say that a new pattern is on the way from Closet Case Patterns...and its going to be named after me! I couldn't believe it when Heather Lou told me and am a bit blown away that she'd think of me for one of her patterns. She gave away on Instagram that the Fiona will be a fitted dress and from what I've seen it looks like it will be a beauty! 
  • The Basic Bikini Wells Bay is being tested by Halfmoon Atelier. It looks lovely and simple in a chic scandi way from what we can see so far!
  • Ensemble Patterns are testing the Perkins Shirt, Tunic and Dress which makes a feature out of the raglan sleeves with a tie back and open yoke details.
  • The next issue of Smyly Magazine will come with a free jumpsuit pattern including three different versions. You can find some preview pictures on Instagram; I love the combination of tapered leg and relaxed wrap bodice.
  • Soon to come from Making Patterns Fly will be a halter neck top design. It features really cute gathering and ties at the neckline and would look gorgeous in a breezy muslin or lawn for summer.
  • Pilot Patterns are a new British independent pattern company launching soon. Their first pattern looks like it will be the Lily Lucy Dress which features flutter sleeves
  • Afternoon Pattern Company are currently testing their upcoming new design; the Sparrow Wrap.
  • By Hand London are working on their next pattern, Eloise. From what I've seen on Instagram it looks like a dress with a ruffled hem and dramatic sleeves; I can't wait to see more!
  • Charlotte Kan is currently testing the Parsec Leggings pattern which promises to be a speedy sew for four-way stretch fabrics and has three inseam lengths.
  • The next Lila & June pattern is going to be for a summer button down dress. I love the wine red linen and waist tie detail of the sample that we've seen peeks of so far!


Other Exciting News


  • Scroop Patterns have been working on releasing their patterns in paper format and the first two are now available! The Rilla Corset and Ngaio Blouse paper patterns are avaiable exclusively through Wearing History at the moment.
  • The Wearable Studio launched the first 'semi-printed' version of their patterns. The pattern pieces are mailed out to you but the instructions are still sent digitally; saving on paper but avoiding the hassle of assembling a PDF is a win win! The Franki Top is now available to purchase in this format.
  • There's a new indie sewing book in town and it is a collaboration between four European pattern designers; Atelier Charlotte Auzou, C'est moi le patron!, Orageuse and Pauline Alice. Robes includes eight new dress sewing patterns, two from each designer. I really adore the Garance from Orageuse and am wondering if I can find the time to sew it up before my next press night! The book is currently only available in French.
  • The Deer & Doe Mélilot Shirt is the latest in their pattern line to be released in PDF format. I was very impressed with their PDF when I used it for the Myosotis dress recently. 
  • Louise from Atelier Louise who released a couple of gorgeous sandal patterns last year has launched a new business called Create Space Adelaide. Her sandal patterns and lots of  information about shoe-making are now available on that site and Etsy shop and there are patterns for making headwear and other accessories set to be released in the future.
  • The Fable Dress from Vesta Patterns is now available in printed format. Their PDF version has also been updated to include copy shop format options.


I'm off to get straight back on my machine, all I want to do is sew at the moment and I'm squeezing it in whenever I can! If your sewing motivation needs a bit of a kick here's your daily dose of indie sewing inspiration from the online community...


  • Katie's midi length Inari Tee Dress inspired one of my own sewing projects this month which you may have spotted on my Instagram as it has made a couple of Me-Made-May appearances! All of Katie's choices are spot on here; fabric, length and the slight slimming of the design through the side seams.
  • When you get dressed in the morning do you ever wish you could wear something that is currently in pieces on your sewing table? I've had that relationship going on with the Persephone Pants for about three weeks now! This white pair by Lisa from Tessuti and actually the other washed denim pair in the same blog post have got me really inspired.
  • I could not pull off this look but Sallie is doing it with aplomb! She made the perfect textured fabric choice to show of the gathered yoke details of her Petula blouse from Republic du Chiffon. Look at that beautiful shoulder!
  • Another pattern I really should have taken a closer look at before is the Mimi G Jessica Dress which Bianca has made a stunning version of. Love her fresh fabric choice and how the midi length works with the style of the bodice.
  • Helen's version of the Myosotis Dress is absolutely beautiful in a crisp floral print. I've got a bit of pink printed rayon lined up for my second iteration of this pattern and seeing this has tempted me to try out this view...although it will be hard to resist the beautiful ruffles!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Crinkled Double Viscose Myosotis Dress

Today I'm sharing with you a dress which shot straight to the top of my sewing queue and then straight to the top of my blogging queue too. It is the new Myosotis Dress from Deer & Doe. I (along with many other people by the look of my Instagram!) fell immediately in love with this design, in particular view A and it's effortless breezy boho style. I haven't been 100% sold on the ruffle trend that has hit the high street this season but for me this is the perfect amount and placement of ruffle. I've got a Kew Dress cut out and waiting which I'm pretty excited about but have been hunting for the perfect 'right for any occasion' summer dress pattern that I could wear day in, day out. Despite being tempted by both the Papercut Sway and Adrift Dresses I knew when I saw the Myosotis release that it ticked all the boxes.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

Although I haven't yet tried a Deer & Doe paper pattern and this beauty was worth pushing the boat out for I just couldn't wait and ordered the PDF the day after release. It is actually the very first Deer & Doe pattern I've made and I was really impressed with their PDF. I almost printed it at a copy shop as the large fabric requirements led me to believe there would be a huge number of pages but it is just 29 for View A & B and it you only want View B without the ruffles there is a separate file of 23 pages. If you're printing at the copy shop and just want view B you just need to print the first page. I love this thoughtful attention to user friendliness and I didn't feel like I was wasting much paper as with some companies. There is a detailed separate file on printing and assembling your PDF and I like that it comes with a layers option so you can print just the size(s) you need if you like. Part of the surrounding pages are printed in the borders of each sheet which gives you the option to stick your sheets together overlapping the edges of the pages rather than standard trim the stick method. You just have to draw in the ends of the lines where they don't print right to the very edge of the page.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

I didn't intend to make a white one just like the Deer & Doe sample and was in fact looking for a viscose print but then I stumbled across the perfect fabric on Maggie's market stall in Lewisham. She sells bolt ends from high street stores at bargain prices. A tick in the sustainability box for using up excess yardage from the fashion industry which would otherwise go to waste! This double layer crinkle viscose was just £2.50 per metre. I bought 3 metres and surprisingly have nearly 3/4 of a metre left. This pattern looks like a fabric eater according to the envelope but I know a few of you will be relieved to hear it doesn't have to be with some careful pattern piece placement! I've got 2m of 127cm wide rayon that I really want to use for a this dress and in particular this ruffled view which uses more fabric so didn't think I'd have enough. But I've laid out the pattern pieces and realised I can just about squeeze it out! Woohoo! I'm cutting the size 38 so if you're making a larger size you might need more, although a 150cm wide fabric gives you a bit more to play with. That is for the size 38, larger sizes probably will need a bit more, especially in the narrower width.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

This fabric is absolutely ideal for the design. You want breezy, lightweight fabrics with beautiful drape and movement. This is actually surprisingly weighty for a viscose because of the double layer and is the heaviest I'd use for this style as you don't want anything that will be too bulky when gathered up. There's a lot of gathering going on in this design and gathering is really not my favourite sewing thing to do but it proves how much I love the design that I am prepared to go through it all again! The gathering probably took quite a large proportion of the construction time, I had to excursive a lot of patience painstakingly ensuring that the gathers were evenly spread. I just used the old fashioned technique of two rows of basting length stitches on the machine which you then pull up. I might try the zig-zagging over dental floss trick next time to see if it works out quicker. I've never seen the point of investing in a gathering foot when its not something I do very often.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

The real beauty of this fabric is that despite being near enough white and super airy the double layer means it is opaque even in direct sunlight! Its very similar to double gauze in the way it it put together but has even better swish in the movement. Two layers of the crinkled viscose (which is a bit like a slightly dense cheesecloth) are caught together every half inch or so by a little stitch. This grid of stitches does show slightly when you press the fabric really flat but disappears when it softens up again. The fabric made for a slightly challenging sewing experience as the crinkle kind of gives it some stretch as it moves through the machine and flattens out and one layer also shifts slightly against the other. Nothing that had a detrimental effect on the finished dress though!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

I haven't yet needed to wash the dress (as its pretty much fresh off the machine!) and I'm a bit concerned that the crinkled nature might prove problematic when I do. When I pre-washed it it really wrinkled up and the width of the fabric reduced by almost half! This presses out again with a bit of effort and the dress feels pretty oversized so I don't think a bit of shrinkage width ways will necessarily be a bad thing, but I think its going to be tricky to get it looking good again along all those ruffled seams and hard to press areas. I hope not as I want to wear it all the time but lets be honest.. that white is going to need some regular washing! I'l report back.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

After all the fairly quick and satisfying projects I've been sewing recently to enable me to get squeeze some sewing in around a pretty hectic spell at work this felt like quite the lengthy sew. I tackled it over the bank holiday weekend and it took the majority of it. It was enjoyable to get my teeth stuck into something a bit more meaty again but I did wonder if it would ever end at one point! The instructions are good but don't hold your hand so you need a bit of sewing under your belt to get good results with this. The collar is the trickiest part and does require some skill and the ability to be accurate with your seam allowances around tight corners. I found that aspect particularly difficult as the double layer of fabric was quite bulky for such a delicate detail. It would have been much easier in a crisp lawn! I trimmed as much bulk away as I could but but didn't want to go too far as it makes it difficult to tuck the seam allowances away inside neatly.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

Next time I might try my favoured Four Square Walls method for the collar. Whilst I liked that when you topstitched around the collar you were securing down the right side facing you rather than trying to secure the side you couldn't see with your stitching I found it really difficult to get a clean finish where the point of the collar met the facing at the front. I did my best but it looks bulky and is definitely not the best collar I've sewn.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

I deliberated over buttons for quite some time as I had a few options in my stash which were possibilities. I'm not sure I'm 100% in love with these although I like keeping it clean and simple. I might keep my eyes peeled for some little vintage beauties. I'll let you in to a secret and say that I didn't actually open up my buttonholes and make them functional! As the dress is so oversized it easily slips on over the head without opening so I just sewed the buttons on on top of the holes through both layers. If any of you eagle eyed readers can detect a slight green tinge around the buttonholes and darts its because I'm having real trouble getting the chalk from my pencil out of the fabric! Fingers crossed it will fade with a bit of wear and the first wash!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

The double layer of fabric made a hem quite bulky when I wanted to keep it soft like the rest of the dress so I hemmed both my cuffs and skirt by overlocking the raw edge (trimming off some of the length which was to be used in the hem) and then turning that up once and stitching. It still has quite a bit of body but is a finer finish. I used a size 80 microtex needle in my machine and opted to finish nearly all the raw edges on my overlocker before construction as the fabric frayed quite badly.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

There is a lot to like about this design and I feel so happy in it. I love that there are side seam pockets concealed within the folds of that swishy skirt and the length and width of the sleeve feels great. I love a big cuff but like that these aren't full length which works in combination with the fairly short skirt to balance the overall volume of the style. I'm used to a more fitted waist than this and don't tend to wear much in a oversized style so this has taken a bit of getting used to. I actually felt too overwhelmed in this weighty viscose when I finished it and went back in to add waist ties. I sewed two long skinny tubes, turned them right side out and inserted them into the side seams just above the waistline. Being able to pull the waist in at the back with these makes me feel a lot more comfortable with the silhouette and has made the world of difference. I think in a lighter fabric I wouldn't necessarily need them as it would hang on the body differently but I am considering sizing down next time anyway for a neater fit on the shoulder.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: White Crinkled Double Viscose Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

All in all a huge summer sewing success and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a long hot summer so I can make the most of this. I think for the next while every viscose print I fall in love with will instantly be made into a Myosotis in my head! I can't wait to make another. 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

A Nikko Dress and a Nikko Top

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Nikko Dress in Arctic Blue Marle Rib Knit from The Fabric Store

I'm increasingly finding myself making at least two or three iterations of a pattern that works for me! Ive got two finished projects to share with you today, both from the same pattern which has fast become my go to for a quick and satisfying knit project that is a really handy addition to my wardrobe. I'm a big fan of the True Bias pattern range; Kelli's style really resonates with me and many of her patterns suit my lifestyle. They're really practical wardrobe staples which still feel 'designed' and on trend. I've made five Ogden Camis to date! When the Nikko Dress & Top was released earlier this year it grabbed my attention as being comfortable and easy to wear but also great fun to style. The pattern comes with variations for either a top or maxi-length dress with side slits and either option can be made with or without sleeves.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Nikko Top in Fuschia Merino Jersey from The Fabric Store

In a similar way that the Ogden is a great stash-buster for woven fabrics, view A of this pattern is a great way to use up those 'less than a metre' pieces of knits. I wasn't sure how this style would suit me so I started off with this sleeveless top variation so I could test the style and fit without wasting too much time or fabric. I managed to squeeze this out of the fuschia merino jersey I had left over from my winter Kielo Dress. Just today I made a second merino version in a gorgeous teal as I managed to squeeze the pieces out around a long Blackwood Cardigan I was cutting earlier in the week. As well as not taking much fabric it is a super speedy sew; I think I got the teal one sewn in less than two hours this afternoon. The merino is a great match for the top despite being a little on the lightweight wide compared to the pattern recommendations. It has great recovery and presses well so is easy to manipulate into all those lovely shapes.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Nikko Top in Fuschia Merino Jersey from The Fabric Store

As I wasn't sure how this would turn out I sort of whizzed through the construction without thinking too much and now I'm kicking myself for not doing a better sewing job as it has turned into one of my favourite tops - especially to wear with high waisted trousers like the Flints I have on here! I've since gone back and reinforced the neck stitching and twin needled hem by using some Maderia Aeroflock thread in the bobbin which has a little stretch in and is super strong. The neck is the one area that you really want to make sure your stitching has plenty of give in as that neat little neckline has to stretch quite a lot to get over the head. I sewed both the top and dress up using my regular knit construction method of short and narrow zigzag stitch on the machine and finishing with the overlocker. I twin-needled the hem on the top so it would stretch but just straight-stitched the dress hem as it doesn't need to stretch and was and meant I could simply pivot around the corners when finishing the side splits.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Nikko Top in Fuschia Merino Jersey from The Fabric Store

Despite appearing to be a simple design there are lots of carefully considered elements to it which I love. Both the slightly cut away shape of the armhole and the knee length side slits are so on trend right now but so easy to wear. One thing to note is that the shape of the armholes do require a careful bra choice; it doesn't need to be strapless but a couple of mine won't stay hidden. My favourite design element is the mock turtleneck and the way it is cut. It is slim and elegantly shaped and the perfect height. Its cut so it sits close to the neck but you don't feel constricted or irritated by it.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Nikko Top in Fuschia Merino Jersey from The Fabric Store

For the dress I used this Arctic Blue Marle Rib Knit from The Fabric Store. It is a cotton modal blend with a quite surprising weight and drape to it as well as PLENTY of stretch across the grain. I haven't had much chance to work with ribbed knits as yet but have been really drawn to them recently. It gave me a bit of trouble which I'll get into in a moment, so I'd really appreciate any rib knit sewing advice you might have! Despite the sewing challenges it presented it does wash and press really beautifully thanks to the cotton content. Plus the rich blue colour is stunning, especially in the marle effect.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Nikko Dress in Arctic Blue Marle Rib Knit from The Fabric Store

I cut the size 6 at the bust and waist and graded out to an 8 at the hip for both garments which is larger on top than my measurements but I was wary of it looking snug. This has worked out great for the top in the fine merino jersey but not so well for the ribbed dress. The pattern does state that the top is more fitted and the dress cut straighter and I do like that the dress doesn't cling around the hips of stomach. I don't feel self conscious at all in this as I do in some other knit designs. However I do feel like fairly heavy weight of this ribbed knit is causing it to hang in a strange way away from the body and not skim the figure as it does in Kelli's samples. I'm not sure if this is to do with too much ease in the design or the less than springy recovery of this knit. Whilst you don't want a 'clingy' knit for this style you want a fabric which will hold a form. It perhaps feels like I should have gone down a size to compensate for the stretch of the rib and I think the size I make next time will depend on the elasticity and weight of the fabric I choose.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Nikko Dress in Arctic Blue Marle Rib Knit from The Fabric Store

I've used this ribbed knit before to make a Renfrew Tee and found it quite challenging to work with. The ribbed nature of the knit makes it quite easy to stretch out as you sew so I ended up with wavy hems on my tee. To combat this with the dress I used strips of 'Steam A Seam' to fix the hem in place before topstitching. You stick the hem in place with this tape and then press it with a warm iron to secure and this stopped this area stretching out as it ran through the machine beautifully. A stretched and wavy hem would have ruined the feature of those lovely side splits! I was also worried about stretching out the armholes so lowered the pressure of my presser foot and took it nice and slowly, being careful not to tug the fabric and allow the machine to pull it through evenly.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Nikko Dress in Arctic Blue Marle Rib Knit from The Fabric Store

I was worried about the rib knit being very bulky around the armholes so used some leftover merino scraps for the armhole binding. The method given for this in the instructions is straightforward to achieve and gives a lovely neat finish but is not particularly delicate as you wind up with three seam allowances enclosed within the 'binding'. Be sure to grade them down generously and give them a good press. This is the most time consuming part of the construction as the visible stitching requires accuracy but a beginner could easily manage with a bit of patience.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Nikko Dress in Arctic Blue Marle Rib Knit from The Fabric Store

That's about all there is to say about these two; lovely to make and lovely to wear! You can definitely expect to see more of these particularly a sleeved version or two later in the year. If you'd like a peek at my teal version of the top I'm sure I'll be wearing it for Me-Made-May at some point in the coming week so keep an eye on my Instagram Stories!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Nikko Dress in Arctic Blue Marle Rib Knit from The Fabric Store

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