"" The girl who makes things: July 2014

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Mccalls 6696 - a wearable toile

Bonjour mes amis! I hope the weather is just as glorious wherever you are as it is here. It's three days until The Wedding and I've almost finished the last bridesmaids dress, I just need to hand stitch the lining to the zip and then I'm done. Big smile. I've even had enough time to squeeze in some selfish sewing too:


It's a bit too finished to be a proper toile (ie I overlocked the edges) but it's a still a toile for three reasons: 1) the fabric is a cheap poly cotton which I bought from Leeds Market for £1.50 per metre for toile making purposes. 2) I sewed a straight size 10 from the envelope with no alterations. 3) I wasn't exactly a perfectionist about any of the finishings. I used black thread although the fabric is navy and some of the top-stitching is atrocious. But I don't care because it's a toile.


The only alteration I did make was to gather the skirt instead of pleat it (mainly for time saving reasons, but also because I wanted to see how it'd look - and I kinda like it!). Fitting wise it's ok. The pattern allows you to choose your bra cup size which means you don't have to worry about FBAs or SBAs. I particularly love this feature as I nearly always need to do a SBA and I never feel fully confident about it. I wish all patterns would allow you to choose the cup size (hint to indie patterns!). I don't like clothes to be tight but I think this dress is a little on the loose side. I may need to go down a size, although the fit on the shoulders is good. Any advice would be much appreciated.


 I have big visions for this dress. I've done enough burrito bodices and invisible zip insertions to put them in a draw labelled 'mastered'. My next challenge is to master the button-up collar. I've been really inspired by the number of shirts and shirt dresses out there in the bloggesphere. I was particularly impressed by this tutorial from Four Square Walls about how to sew the perfect collar - I wish I'd followed it. I want to make a couple of proper versions of Mccalls 6696 and really hone that collar.


I'm thinking of making one for summer in fresh white cotton which I'd then dip dye in blue. Rather like this:

Mink Pink Great White Shirt Dress

And another version in forest green for Autumn/Winter, possibly with a straight skirt? I've also been crushing on the Alda shirt dress by Grainline Studio and very tempted to download the pdf pattern.

I really enjoyed making this toile and it didn't take too long either. There's something so satisfying about piecing together a slightly more complicated garment - like working out a puzzle. 

Friday, 4 July 2014

The Tarzan and Jane skirt

It's Fridaaaaay! Isn't it a lovely feeling? I especially love Fridays because I finish work at lunchtime and I can go home and be freeeee. I can also go to Leeds Market and peruse the fabric stalls as they're still open at this time of day. Oh the joys! Anyway, while I've got a snippet of free time, I thought I'd show you my latest make, a wrap pencil skirt, or as I like to call it, The Tarzan and Jane skirt.


Now I have a confession to disclose: I don't often wear the clothes I make. It's terrible, I know, and I'm trying desperately to redeem myself. But there are a few factors as to why it is the case: firstly, I often spend so much time working on a piece that by the time I've finished, I just can't bare to look at it anymore. Secondly, sometimes the things I make aren't really my style or appropriate for everyday life, ie work. There's not much I can do about the first point, unless I become a faster sewer, but I'm trying to work on the last point. This is why I decided to make a work skirt.


The fabric is a little boring, I must admit, but this is the kind of thing I need in my wardrobe. I need a basic staple skirt which I can wear with a variety of different tops and biege/brown pretty much does the job. 


The pattern is Vogue 8928. It was easy enough to sew, but I had a few of issues with fitting. I initially made a toile and found that it needed a bit more room in the butt area. I altered the pattern to make the darts a little wider on the back pieces by 2". This was way too much and I ended up having to make gigantic seam allowances all over the skirt to compensate for the amount of room. This has also given the skirt a rather odd shape. My advice? Make the item according to the pattern and adjust it later. I'm just not confident enough to do full on pattern alterations yet.



I fully lined the skirt and overlocked all the seams which gave a nice, clean finish. I even had a go at blind stitching the hem which is rather more sophisticated than my usual handmades.


Due to the wrap shape, the skirt doesn't need a vent to allow for free movement. Instead, the wrap moves around as you walk and sometimes exposes a little bit of leg. This is ok, but the real problem is sitting down without the skirt splitting up to the thigh. I'm a teacher so I can't sit in front of my class with most of my leg showing! So I haven't worn it to work yet. Le sigh.

If you think I sound like I'm not completely in love with this skirt then you're probably right. There ain't nothing worse than wearing something you don't feel 100% secure in. Will I make this skirt again? Maybe, but for the time being I'll chalk it all up to experience and hope that the next make is a little more wearable.