Cyan Lily Dress by Mandy K Designs

I feel like I am really pumping out these kids clothes at the moment. I think the motivation is higher because they are such quick projects, most of the time, and I can get nice results using small pieces of fabric.

Don’t tell my daughter but this dress is made from those small pieces, kind of! For the bodice I actually used a navy knit t-shirt, size small, as I actually bought it for myself a while back along with some elastic gold sequins to make a fancy top – well we all know how that plan went. The skirt fabric is what was left over from one of my dresses pre blog..

cyla dress front 2

cyla dress front 3

The pattern is the Cyan Lily dress from Mandy K Design. The bodice can either be made in knit or woven as can the skirt. I chose the knit bodice to eliminate making closures. The bodice is self-lined using the burrito method as per the instructions to ensure all seams are enclosed. There is a tiny bit of hand stitching necessary to finish the seam where the back neckline attaches to the back bodice. The back neckline requires fusible interfacing but I didn’t have any so chose to omit it, but like the instructions mention, it would have helped to keep the shape of the neckline a bit more. The skirt is made from some modern tribe poplin 9312 in ink (100% cotton), which has been lined with white top pop poplin (80%polyester/20% cotton) as the fabric is transparent in the sun.

cyla dress back

I didn’t have much of the tribe print remaining after my dress so had to narrow the width of the skirt by 7 inches in the end, but it still turned out. I chose to do a narrow machine hem for both layers. I also decided to attach hand made belt loops at the side seams in case we decide to style it with a belt.

Everything went together really smoothly, from PDF cutting and taping, to sewing up the completed garment. All in a nights work practically. According to the designer, the inspiration for this dress came from Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys, which is evident from the neckline. It would be cute to make a black version and do a copy cat photo shoot but chances of that happening are …….minimal.

cyla dress side

The Athena Top by Gray All Day

Helena from Gray All Day has just released her newest pattern, in fact I was a pattern tester for her new Athena Top*. I’ve never been a pattern tester before so hope I did the role justice. I was drawn to this top for a number of reasons, primarily because I am in desperate need of some separates in my wardrobe. As you can probably see from my posts I make a lot of dresses. Secondly it’s probably not a silhouette I would normally choose and was more than happy to get out of my comfort zone. Thirdly, I am so inspired by those who have a vision and are enthusiastic and motivated about achieving their goals that I am happy to contribute to their success, especially because I know I would never venture down that path.

It can be made up in a knit or woven and I tried both versions. These are my tester versions and you can see others at Gray All Day so I won’t go into detail about construction as the instructions changed for the final version.

First the knit test version. I used fabric in my stash as I had bought the perfect fabric 2 months earlier, a rayon knit (100% rayon) in a #4 scatter pink colourway, and white ITY knit (95% polyester, 5% spandex) which were originally purchased to make a 2 tone t-shirt. The Athena Top seemed like the perfect match to achieve the look I originally was going for. The top is a loose fit with oversized sleeves and thus requires fabrics with lots of drape. This top has a lot of ease, in fact it has no negative ease. I went down 2 sizes than where my measurements put me on the size chart.

athena knit front

For construction I used a slight zig zag stitch to sew up the seams and rather than pressing the seams open I serged them together. This of course added some bulk when adding the neck and sleeve bands but the fabric was pretty thin so I got away with it. I used a twin needle for the hem, the best one I have ever done. Not sure why they have been so troublesome in the past.

The second test version I made was from woven fabric, Cupro Touch (100% polyester) which is apparently the “European cousin of tencel fabric” in sun colour. I cut the same size as the knit version and you can see it still fits well with enough ease at the hips for adequate movement. I neatened the side seams by serging. The neckline and sleeve hems are finished off with self-made bias binding in which pattern pieces are included, and then completely turned to the inside and topstitched.

athena woven front

I was relatively happy with the tops and the low back hem adds some more interest although I would prefer more length next time. My personal concern was that the neckline was too wide and low for my liking however the final pattern has been altered with this change in mind as well as other changes so I didn’t feel it was accurate to post my complete thoughts about this top without making another version as the final pattern is written.

                           black skirt frontblack skirt side black skirt back

The third version is a woven top, made from brights printed crepe de chine # 4 in yellow/grey (100% polyester) and poly matt crepe de chine in ivory (100% polyester). I cut the same size as my previous versions. I don’t have much to add construction wise with instructions to french seam all seams for the woven version and a neater neckline finish with the self made bias binding (with pattern pieces included). My only change here was to do the neckline top stitching 3/8 inch from the edge rather the instructed 1/4 inch. As aforementioned the neckline is higher and more stable on my shoulders in the final release version of the pattern. There is also a lengthen line included on the pattern and I lengthened both front and back by 1 inch (personal preference). This version is by far my favourite and although have been wearing my knit version I think this one will prove more versatile and comfortable.

athena top woven inside

Nice inside with the french seams

Helena has done a great job with this pattern to create something unique and versatile and I now happily have a few new separates for my wardrobe. I initially found styling the top a little difficult because I usually wear more fitted tops but have come up with a few combinations and I think it looks just as nice tucked in as it does out.

denim skirt front

 pants side

*Helena provided the pattern free for testing.

McCall’s 6744 Maxi Dress – Doesn’t Get Much Easier Than This

I wear maxi dresses quite a lot and had made this McCall’s Fashion Star 6700 pattern on 3 occassions, 2 of those with knit fabric and the other with a woven, and they have all been in constant rotation over summer. I wanted another easy dress to wear and McCall’s 6744 fit the bill. I made view C, a pullover dress with an elastic waist and narrow hem, mock wrap, very loose-fitting bodice with elasticized shoulders. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

I used an oriental printed knit flower in a grey colourway from Spotlight, 148cm wide (95% polyester/5% spandex) and I had 3m. Not much to say about construction of this dress as it went together really quickly. Due to the print of the fabric I cut the pieces in a single layer, which is why I used so much, to make sure both sides and the back were symmetrical and hopefully avoid any bad print placement.

McCalls 6744 frontMcCalls Front 2    McCalls 6744 Back

My major issues were with the narrow hem as per the instructions. The fabric shifted during sewing and the topstitching was a little wonky on the overlap skirt panels, and I did go back and fix this. I am showing you the worst area of topstitching but you catch my drift. I also figured a longer stitch length was much better.  What I have come to realise over time is that people rarely notice these flaws and are more impressed by the fact that I can actually sew clothes.

               mccalls 6744 topstitching mccalls 6744 topstitching fixed (2)

I wish in hindsight I just turned the hems once and topstitched and then cut away close to the edge. For the hem of the dress I used a twin needle rather than a narrow hem. For the life of me I always have such trouble with the twin needle. I’ve tinkered with stitch length, tension, sewing speed, types of needles and whatever other suggestion I have found online and always end up with skipped stitches particularly on my left needle. If anyone knows why, please help!

mccalls 6744 hem skipped stitches

The instructions also called for double stitching of seams, which I did do, but was double the work really, because I also serged them for a neat finish.

It is fairly obvious from the pattern photo the crossover front bodice is loosely designed and doesn’t provide much coverage but I tend to wear singlets under a lot of my clothes anyway (as you can see below I’m just checking everything is covered up). In this case I will need to wear a dress slip as the fabric is a bit sheer and given the split in the dress I can’t wear anything too long underneath. There is a lot of ease in the top part of the dress and I cut a size XS for this dress so it was more fitted. Next time I may cut the size up in the skirt so it has a bit more flow.

McCalls 6744 bodice

The skirt is a mock wrap and the overlap is not very big and too revealing for me, opening to the high thigh.  I stitched from the waist down to about 46cm, trying to match the prints. I find the split is still quite feminine and allows me to bend and sit quite comfortably at this length without any fear of indecent exposure.

                                                                                                                   McCalls 6744 spli                                          McCalls 6744 split when walking

My fit issue with this was that the lower armhole is a bit tight. I think because it is a knit and the weight of the dress stretches it a bit, it is ok, however this seems to be a common trend for me. It’s an easy enough alteration to make on sleeveless tops and dresses but requires more thinking and planning for those with sleeves. Does anyone recommend any good resources to combat this? My bad for not making a muslin and while I’m putting it out there, let me say I never make a muslin and fit as I go. I know its risky but I lose interest quickly and want to get things done so I can wear them.

I’m also a little silly in that I used white thread to sew this up when I think blue would have blended in more and perhaps showed up less of the imperfections. Oh well, live and learn!

Getting Creative….. Not on the blog titles though! Here’s Vogue 8896

I’m not one to think of catchy titles and neither do I expect a big following with this blog but this is my own journey about what I make and do and how to get better at it.

I got inspired to make a wrap dress because (a) I don’t own one, and (b) I’ve been watching the House of DVF (Diane von Furstenberg) so why not give it a go. I used to be a jeans and top girl but lately reaching for a dress is far easier and quicker and thumbs up for minimal ironing. Vogue 8896 Front       Vogue 8896 back

So straight to sewing. The first make I am posting is a Vogue 8896 wrap dress with bias bodice and a flared skirt. Recommended for moderate stretch knits. I made view A but don’t know how I feel about shorter dresses these days, probably because I spend most of my day chasing rugrats around, although the finished garment isn’t as short as I thought it would be so that’s a bonus.

The fabric I used was a stretch crepe knit 147cm wide and I had 2m and used a ball point needle with a regular straight stitch. I cut a size 14 and I’m normally a size 12 (Australian) RTW. I really would like a maxi version of this but it requires 3.7m of fabric and I don’t really need to add to the stash quite yet.

It was probably too stretchy for this project however I think the shortVogue 8896 wrap skirt skirt version stops it from being weighed down too much. Everything went together quite smoothly and I followed the instructions as per the pattern. I wasn’t sure whether to make the dress sleeveless or add sleeves and cut them out and basted them on but I thought the versatility of having a sleeveless dress and layering in the colder months might be more beneficial. The fabric is slightly see through however with a slip all is well and also provides assurance that on a windy day the wrap won’t be too revealing although there is quite a substantial overlap.

Vogue 8896 top front

The only thing I’m unsure about is the pooling that ocurrs at the front waistline. Looking at the model the same thing is happening and the only way to smooth that out for me was to pull up the front at the shoulders or tie it really tight (and I admit that I forget to shorten the bodice which is a common alteration for me) but I might remember to do that in the next version rather than tinker with this one as it is still wearable. There is also no fear of flashing as the front overlap is quite big probably as the width of the shoulder fronts are quite wide.

Overall I am happy with this dress as it can be worn out with heels and also with sandals for a more casual look. I was thinking as to whether it could be made to be closed with a snap at the waistline rather with a tie so that it leaves more options for belting if made in a different fabric. I am also contemplating making it up in a woven and cutting the front out on the bias.

Any comments from anyone if these ideas will actually work?

Happy stitching !