I havent posted much about what I have been making to date so with this in mind I thought I would introduce a new regular slot – Makes for this month. The first make is the Dahlia dress by Colette but I wont talk about this now because I will have a post all of its own coming out shortly. I’ve also been making a toile of the Aster blouse by Colette but I am waiting on my buttonhole function to be fixed to show this off. There are two patterns I do want to talk about though:
The Pussy Bow Dress by Simple Sew
This was a freebie pattern with one of my sewing magazines, I cant remember which though! I’ve accumulated quite a few free patterns but have never used them so thought I would give this a try. I had some elephant crepe-de-chine from Fabricland (I think it was either 3.99 or 4.99 a metre) so I thought this would go well with this pattern. The pattern has patterns for a dress or a blouse and I went for the dress pattern.
I am used to PDFs so when I opened this pattern envelope I noticed immediately how thin the pattern paper was. I cut straight into it because I have two copies of this pattern (bought the same mag twice by accident!) and went for the largest size (20). I started cutting with scissors but soon changed to a rotary blade as it is so much more time efficient. The pattern paper did rip on one piece, but it was in the middle and not a big tear so it was okay.
Once cutting the pieces was completed it was time to move on to cutting the fabric. With wovens I always start with ripping across selvage to selvage at the top and bottom, this ensures that I can line up the fabric correctly and it gets cut on grain. It can seem like a waste if you lose quite a few inches of fabric but its not once you take into account that you wont need to recut pieces that warp! Because crepe-de-chine is quite slippery I ensured I pinned generously (also used pattern weights). I would not advise cutting with scissors with a slippery fabric, a rotary cutter and mat will be much more accurate. I would not advise forgoing pins either, for the same reason.
Once I began sewing the garment sewed up nicely. Its a largely simple pattern: a front and a back with 6 darts and an invisable zipper. I made the garment with french seams which took longer, but worth it for the lovely finish.The neck finish was simple enough – I’d never made a pussy bow before so did not know what to expect but the instructions are straight-forward and I didn’t run into any problems. It did require some hand stitching at the back of the neck and I am reluctantly becoming more accepting of this. The invisable zipper was probably the biggest challenge of the dress – if you are not experienced in this I would practice first but this is one of the things that has come to me quite easily. I think the trick was that I started doing them almost as soon as I started to sew so now they are simple enough (especially with an invisable zipper foot – great investment). Buttonholes however are another matter but luckily this pattern didnt have any! The armholes were simple enough, mainly because you put them in before you sew up the side seam, so much easier than setting them in. Then it was just the hem to finish. I initially tried a special foot to do a thin hem but this messed up so I went the traditional route and folded twice.
This is a pattern that an advanced beginner could do – I say that due to the zip, otherwise it is very beginner friendly. Would I make it again? Yes for sure, though I might try the blouse next time, and you could probably omit the zip in that version.
Mimi Blouse by Tilly and the Buttons
The Mimi blouse is a pattern in the Tilly and the Buttons book Love at First Stitch. I bought this book when I first started sewing but I’d never gotten round to making the Mimi blouse. I was also trying to stop myself from purchasing more patterns when I dont need to( we wont count the three I bought while making this!!). I’d just bought some Cotton Lawn from Fabricland for 4.99 a metre that I wanted to use and it was perfect for this.
Firstly I had to trace off the patterns because I definitely did not want to cut into the patterns that came with the book. This was simple enough but the blouse had 8 pieces to trace so it did take quite a long time.
Once this was done it was time to cut the fabric out. Cotton lawn is light and floaty but perfectly managable. I torn the ends and lined it up and pinned really well. I have to say, cotton lawn might just be my new fabric fabric of all time. It cuts so easily! I also had to cut my interfacing out – I used the lightweight one to go with the cotton lawn and by the end I was struggling to have enough. I cut two pieces for the neck line instead of one on the fold and stitched it together – who will know?!!!
Firstly I had to stay stitch – Tilly is a big advocate of this and while it does add extra time to your makes it can stop your fabric from stretching out of shape so is worth doing. Its just a line of stiching along curves within the seam allowance. Next up I had to run a basting stitch across the back and front pieces. I hate gathers with a passion, its a lot of work to make them even. You should do three lines of stitching at 5.0 length but I am lazy and only ever do one. They advise against this but I have never had a problem. As it turned out attaching the yoke to the back and front pieces in this way was fine and it looked good.
Then I had to attach the side seams, which I did using a french seam. A french seam is where you sew wrong sides together first and then right sides together encasing all the raw edges. Its a lovely technique but i would only use it on light-weight fabrics – anything heavier I use the overlocker.
Once this was done I had to attach the collar – I did not read the instructions carefully and attached one side of the collar without making it up first. Cue the unpicker. Once I made the collar up and attached that, it was quite easy to attach the neckline facing. Rather than turning the hem under and stitching to finish the facing, I overlocked. This worked well except going around the curve – if you have any tips for doing this please share in the comments.
The sleeves were easy enough – first a pleat needed to be made; I couldnt really understand what Tilly was instructing so I did my own thing and it worked out fine. I’m not sure I gathered the sleeve correctly but the end result was acceptable. Attaching the sleeve facing was a breeze although I did have to do some dreaded hand basting to finish it.
Then it the turn of the hemming process. I learned a fab technique watching one of Gertie’s videos; you sew a line of stitching 1/8th away from the edge, then turn it under and sew another line on top of the first line. Once this is done trim away any excess and fold under again sewing a final line of stitching. This is by far the easiest way of hemming in my book.
The last thing to do is create buttonholes – eak!!! I havent done this yet because my 1-step function is not working and I need to speak to my dealer but once I create these and sew buttonholes it will be finished.
Love at First Stitch is a book aimed at beginners, and it certainly has beginner patterns in it but the Mimi blouse isnt one of them. I feel this is an intermediate pattern because there are a lot of different techniques to be used and it takes some time to complete (even if you are not a beginner), so I wouldnt use this pattern as your first attempt at sewing. I will possibly make more but it depends on time constrains as this did take quite a while to make.