Saturday, 28 December 2013

My Blue Anna Party Dress

I needed wanted to make a party dress to wear to my work Christmas Party this year. Luckily, this coincided with the Cocktail Outfit Contest on Pattern Review and I had just stumbled upon this gorgeous blue flocked taffeta at my local Bargain Box fabrics. Recently, I had completed my Floral Anna Maxi, and I wanted to try this pattern in a completely different fabric, so everything just kind of fell into place.

I decided to go the extra mile and stretch my sewing skills while making this dress. I opted to include the front split, although I chose quite a conservative length to be more age appropriate. (I kinda wish I made it a little bit higher now, because it is hardly even noticeable unless I stick my leg right out).

The bodice is completely lined which eliminated those annoying facings and I used french seams on the skirt panels.(This is the first time I have sewn french seams). I hand stitched the hems on the front split and I also hand stitched the seam allowances down on the centre back seam (because this seam had to be pressed open due to the invisible zip). I also hand stitched the hem on the skirt and the bodice lining at the sleeve edges and the waist line.

Here are some closer details:

Front tucks match skirt seams
Invisible zip with hook and eye at the top.
And now for the gory details:

Bodice lining
I attached the bodice lining to the neck line and invisible zip as shown in this tutorial from Sewaholic. This makes a nice neat finish. I also under stitched the bodice lining at the neckline to stop it rolling out.

Inside back bodice and skirt.
Inside side front showing seam with split.
Hand stitched hem on front split.
Hand stitching seam allowance down on centre back seam.
I made a few more changes to the By Hand London Anna Dress pattern from my floral version. I used the same bodice with the alterations I had already made, then changed the neckline from the V neck, to the slash neckline. I lowered the neckline by 4cm at the centre front, curving it back to the original line at the shoulder seams. I also took out a wedge of 2cm across the back just above the waistline, tapering to nothing at the side seams. (My floral Anna was a bit too long at the back).

This is how I did my french seams on the skirt panels:

Sew seam, fabric wrong sides together. Use width of presser foot as a guide.
Trim off half of seam allowance. Press seam allowance to one side. Open out fabric and fold back over seam allowance and press.
Sew seam again (using width of presser foot as a guide), this time with right sides of fabric together and seam allowance encased in seam.
I found this method worked out perfectly with 1.5cm or 5/8th an inch seam allowance. Although my presser foot is slightly less than half the seam allowance width, this allows for turn of cloth.

I have already worn my "Cocktail Outfit" to my work Christmas Party and it was a hit. I received some lovely compliments, and had a fabulous time. Hope you are all having a happy festive season, and are managing to squeeze some sewing in too.

Happy Sewing

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Madeline Dress Modelled

A few weeks ago I made the Madeline Dress by Wink Designs for my grand daughter's third birthday and I promised a photo of her modelling it after her birthday.

Well, my dear daughter in law has emailed me 20 photos from the photo shoot. Here are the best ones:

I am Three
This is the front
This is the side
This is the back
Hands on hips pose
It has pockets
And here are some action shots:

I think she liked it.

Hope you all enjoyed these photos as much as I did.

Happy Sewing

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Floral Anna Maxi

After seeing Sew Busy Lizzy's Anna Dresses from By Hand London, I was sold on this pattern. You can see her versions here First Anna , Second Anna , Third Anna. I bought the pattern but then it sat unused for quite a while because I couldn't find the ideal fabric I had pictured using. I traced off size US10/UK14 from the shoulders down to the bottom of the armhole and then graded up to a size US12/UK16 at the waist. I cut the skirt at size US12/UK16 because I didn't want it to be tight across the tummy region.

Photo of Pattern envelope.
Eventually I found this fabric on the Lincraft Online Store. As you can see, the photo of the fabric was very blurry so I was taking a bit of a risk ordering it. However, I was very happy with the print when it arrived. The spun rayon is ideal for this pattern. It's so soft and drapes beautifully to create a very feminine dress. It was OK to sew, but keeping the pins in the fabric was a bit of a nightmare.

I did make a muslin of the bodice to check fit as I had read that a lot of people had trouble with the neckline gaping. I'm so glad that I did because it was easy to adjust the pattern to eliminate the gaping. I used this tutorial by Ginger Makes to adjust the back neckline, and then I used the same process to eliminate the gaping at the front neckline as well. I pinched out 2cm at each side of the back neckline and 1.5cm at each side of the front neckline. I also stay stitched the neckline as soon as possible after cutting to avoid the fabric stretching during handling.

No neckline gaping
This dress is super long. I cut off 9cm from the length and I am wearing this with very high heels. (I'm 5' 7"). 

The neckline is finished off with facings as instructed in the pattern. These are not interfaced and are very floppy. I under stitched to try and avoid them rolling out. (This is not mentioned in the instructions). They do suggest top stitching but I didn't want that look for this soft feminine dress. I also anchored the facings to the shoulder seams with a few hand stitches to keep them in place. This method has been successful.

Closer view of front bodice pleats
Back neckline and invisible zip.
I didn't add the thigh high split to this dress so it made construction a little simpler. I finished off all the seams with my overlocker in a cream coloured thread which I felt was quite neat, as they would not be seen at all while wearing the dress. I simply turned twice and top stitched narrow hems on the sleeves and the skirt.

I hope this railing doesn't break.
This fabric was a bit transparent so I wore a nude coloured slip underneath.

I added my denim jacket (store bought) for warmth as it was a little chilly tonight. I think it gave the dress a nice casual vibe.

Credit for these lovely photos all goes to my very patient partner who actually specializes in Wedding Photography. You can see his work here Photique Photography.

In closing, I must share what happened after these photos were taken. We went into town for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants. As the waitress seated us she complimented me on my dress. When I told her that I made it myself she was genuinely amazed and gushed about how pretty and feminine it was. This really made my night. I guess that's just one of the rewards of sewing your own clothes. So satisfying.

And, by the way this is not the last you will be seeing of this pattern. I have the next one cut out already...but this next one will be quite different.

Happy Sewing