Saturday, 27 November 2021

Gingham Wool Gauze Wilder Gown

I've got quite a quick little post for you today as I've already talked about this pattern twice before. But I wanted to share with you my winter version of the Wilder Gown from Friday Pattern Company. The rave reviews of this pattern drew me to it when it was first released but at that time oversized smock designs were quite a departure from my normal style (now I'm ALL about them!). I tentatively dipped my toe in the water by making the top first and loved the straightforward construction and fit which was more slim around the shoulders and upper chest than I expected. I think it is this fit around the upper portion of the body which prevents me from feeling swamped in fabric when wearing the dress as everything sits really nicely and the swooshy movement all happens from below the chest down.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Friday Pattern Company Wilder Gown in Gingham Wool Gauze from The Fabric Store

I first made the dress variation of this pattern this summer in a bold viscose print. I was concerned that the dramatic print combined with dramatic style of garment might be too much for me but I lived in this dress all summer long and knew I'd miss it when the colder weather set in. I'm really delighted that I think I found the perfect fabric to make this winter appropriate. This beautiful gingham is a Japanese wool/cotton gauze from The Fabric Store (this is the brown but it comes in two other colours). The fabric is still lightweight with airy movement but has more body and less drape than the summer viscose which changes the effect of the design a little. It gives it a bit more volume and a wider shape if that makes sense. In contrast to the viscose which hangs down against the body.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Friday Pattern Company Wilder Gown in Gingham Wool Gauze from The Fabric Store

The gauze is quite loosely woven as you'd expect but has a 'loftiness' to it, which combined with the wool fibre content makes it surprisingly warm. The different squares of the gingham also provide a slight varied texture which gives a kind of puckered effect a bit like seersucker. This is more pronounced after washing. In fact when washed this fabric shrinks up a bit which was a bit of a surprise after the first wash. But when ironed it smooths back out again to its original size; like a cotton double gauze does. I've laundered this dress just like I do my merino jersey. In the machine on a fairly delicate cycle and at 30 degrees. I made sure to give it a good pre-wash in case any shrinking was going to happen.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Friday Pattern Company Wilder Gown in Gingham Wool Gauze from The Fabric Store

As the skirt is full and gathered I didn't give myself too hard a time with the pattern matching. I mainly concentrated on getting the centre front seam of the bodice to match as that is an area which would really draw the eye if things were a bit off. Other than that I made sure that the rows in the gingham lined up down the side seams and panels of the skirt and that was it.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Friday Pattern Company Wilder Gown in Gingham Wool Gauze from The Fabric Store

As previously I really enjoyed sewing up this pattern, even all that gathering for the tiers of the skirt! It is a really quick sew as the construction is cleverly thought through to make it as simple as possible. Raglan sleeves, a simple folded down and stitched neckline to make the channel for the tie and then just straight seams and gathering. It would be a great project for a beginner.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Friday Pattern Company Wilder Gown in Gingham Wool Gauze from The Fabric Store

The fabric is slightly sheer so I have been wearing a slip underneath it but you can get away without, particularly if wearing thick tights. I love this dress paired with tights and chunky boots, I think it gives this pattern a more grungy vibe as opposed to my whimsical summer version. It takes me right back to my teenage years. I definitely think this could work with a merino Nikko turtleneck layered underneath on really cold days too. In the winter I tend to resort to jeans a lot so I'm happy to have added another warm dress option to my wardrobe. I find winter dressing quite tricky, do you?

Friday, 19 November 2021

Green Linen McCalls 7969

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7969 in Moss Green Linen from The New Craft House

I'm back...with a completely seasonably inappropriate dress! I made and photographed this dress way back in August and it became such a favourite over the last few weeks of summer that I decided it was too good not to share. Plus when the thing I like least about sewing and blogging is taking the photos and I've actually gone to the effort to take some I'm going to share them!

Monday, 30 August 2021

Smoke Linen Hallon Dress

Summer has been very damp and a little chilly here in the UK so I tried to inspire the weather into making one last late attempt to get hot and sunny by making a very summery dress! The Hallon Dress from Paradise Patterns caught my attention on Instagram when it was first released (under a different name to begin with). I love this easy breezy style of dress but really loved that this particularly style retained a bit of shape (rather than hanging like a tent) and a whole lot of drama because of that low back! I think the volume of the lower portion of the dress is balanced out really nicely by the strappy top and exposed skin up top. Although perhaps after the last 18 months of on and off lockdown and restrictions I was just sucked in by the sunny product photos and the idea of wafting around on a beach in such style! 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paradise Patterns Hallon Dress in smoke green linen from The Fabric Store

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Gingham Linen Aura Dress

Now that I have been sewing for a good number of years it is very rare that I see an item of clothing and think 'I want that, exactly as it is. Same fabric, same cut, same fit, same details, no tweaks necessary.' The inspiration for my sewing projects generally comes from an assortment of places and I like to tweak the details of a pattern to suit the image in my head. However, when I saw on Instagram the Aura Dress that Sandy made I absolutely had to have it. And so I did! 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Aura Dress in Gingham Linen from The Fabric Store

Sandy used paprika gingham linen from The Fabric Store to make her dress and I did exactly the same...even down to the same colour! I'm really drawn to warm and spicy tones like this paprika at the moment and I think the richness of the colour helps to make the gingham feel contemporary rather than twee. I've definitely been sucked right into the gingham trend this summer and have a few pieces waiting to be cut. Linen (in particular this mid-weight linen) is such a great choice for this pattern as it retains a bit of crispness and oomph when washed which is great for this dress as I think you want a bit of structure to hold the clean lines of the front wrap and of course to really make the most of that sleeve shape. I love that the sleeves definitely hit that perfect balance of being a bit statement sleeve which remains very wearable and not too dramatic. I marvelling at how lovely this linen was while I worked. It has such lovely slubs and a beautiful rumply softness and which makes it delightful to wear (and sew with). I can see why Sandy got more of it in a different colour to make her beautiful version of the Hallon Dress which is also on my summer wish-list.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Aura Dress in Gingham Linen from The Fabric Store

I'd already been considering making an Aura Dress (a design from the most recent collection from Papercut Patterns) as it felt like a really good choice of attire for a summer wedding and combines a number of things I'm feeling drawn to right now; big sleeves, wrap styles and midi lengths. But I felt like it might be a tricky style to get right on my body. I normally find fitting Papercut patterns a little tricky - they're just not drafted for my body shape so usually require more alterations than some other pattern companies. So for this one I assembled my PDF and prepared to put in some work to get this style to suit me. I began with grading between the sizes which best matched my bust, waist and hip. This is quite a fitted style so I wanted it to fit correctly in all three areas. I currently measure 33.5" bust, 27.5" waist and 38" hip - which translates to size 2-3 bust, 3-4 waist and 3-4 hip in Papercut sizing. I opted to cut the 2 at the bust as I'm quite small in the shoulder, 3 at the waist (as there is a bit of extra ease for wrapping in that area) and a 4 at the hip to be on the safe side as I've previously found their patterns to be a little snug in this area.

The next step of fitting for me is always to check the length as I'm 5ft 3" and most patterns are drafted for taller people than I. On a number of occasions I've been able to resolve problems I've had with fit by shortening the pattern so that everything is sitting in the right place. If a dress is tight across the hips and you're short it might be that the widest point of the garment is sitting too low and your hips are trying to fit into the narrower area just below the waist e.t.c. For me it is quite often that a pattern is too long in the upper chest/shoulder as that is where I am short proportionally. For the Aura Dress I looked carefully at the finished garment measures and measured the length of my pattern pieces and was amazed to find that it looked to be the right length for me. It looked like the bust darts would sit at the right height and the waistline. I was really doubting myself but decided not to shorten it at all in the end and am beyond happy with how it turned out!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Aura Dress in Gingham Linen from The Fabric Store

Looking at the photos it looks like I have a tiny bit of excess above the bust on my right hand side but I actually think that it is to do with the way the dress is sitting as I haven't noticed it otherwise and it feels very comfortable. The dress doesn't fall down off the shoulders but due to the wide v at the front and back it does move around a bit and feel like it might. There is no tension at either the back or front keeping it in place if you get what I mean. To combat this and make it suitable for dancing at weddings (SOON PLEASE SOON!!!) I think I'll add a couple of little loops for my bra straps at the shoulder.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Aura Dress in Gingham Linen from The Fabric Store

I was worried about the wrap front gaping open if the bodice was too long for me and one of the adjustments I considered was taking it up a little bit at the shoulder. However, I'm pleased I didn't fiddle around with it as I could not be more delighted with the fit of the bodice. Plunging wrap necklines are notoriously hard to fit but this sits nice and snugly against the body and the neckline is the perfect depth for me. I'm really pleased with how smoothly the back v sits against the body too. This linen is quite tightly woven but I was really careful with these bias cut edges so that they didn't stretch out as I worked. It helps that the facing is interfaced and therefore doesn't stretch so when you pin this to the main fabric you can check they are still the same length.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Aura Dress in Gingham Linen from The Fabric Store

I love every aspect of this design, the length, the size and length of the sleeves, the proportions of the waist tie and the shaping at the ends of them. I've said it before and I'll say it again; I always enjoy sewing a Papercut pattern as there is usually something a little bit unusual about the design and construction which makes me think and often try something new. When I'm sewing I really enjoy learning something about how fabric pieces come together to make three dimensional shapes and I think Papercut are really good at being creative about this whilst still remaining accessible and wearable. 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Aura Dress in Gingham Linen from The Fabric Store

Their instructions are well thought out and give you all the information you need to achieve a lovely clean finish but don't hold your hand through the techniques as some more beginner friendly patterns do. I did get a bit confused about why some areas of the design involve topstitching (the rear facing of the bodice and hem) but then you finish off that long front facing by slipstitching it down by hand. I felt like you should either just topstitch the whole thing or hand sew. If I make enough I think I'll put the time in and hand sew it as it was well worth the effort down the front. The centre front facing is shaped and varies in width so might look a bit odd topstitched. I love the clean finish across the front wrap.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Aura Dress in Gingham Linen from The Fabric Store

The cuffs of the sleeves are elasticated which I was a little put off by as I never find elasticated elements very comfortable. However, these worked out great! And you really need the tension of the elasticated cuff to get the sleeve to sit high enough up forearm to give the shape.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Aura Dress in Gingham Linen from The Fabric Store

The pattern also includes a skirt variation which I will definitely be making! Possibly in a winter appropriate gingham... I love the straight cut and the way the wrap crosses over just enough to retain modesty but still flashes a bit of leg when you move. Had I not made this dress I don't think I would have really looked twice at the skirt. This has really made me think about additional variations of patterns that I may have overlooked before... dresses often steal the limelight of a truly beautiful skirt or blouse variation don't you think? I'm going to have to look back through my pattern library to find those hidden gems.