Stylearc Toni 3/4 view

I don’t repeat patterns very often, but my first Stylearc Toni dress has been such a favourite that I made another. It isn’t a maternity style but it’s roomy enough to work over a bump without too much distortion. I’m trying to make regular patterns with plenty of room on them rather than maternity ones in the hope that they’ll still look OK after the baby arrives.

My original version was made up straight out of the packet but this time I made a few changes. The first dress is a bad length for me: it ends at the widest part of my leg which means I can’t take long strides because the dress is very narrow at the hem and it catches on my calves. That was my fault for not bothering to add any extra length to the pattern. I normally need to add 2-4 inches to dresses. This one’s supposed to end at the bottom of the calf so it probably needed four inches adding if not more. I was a bit short of fabric for the second version, so instead of lengthening it to the intended proportion I shortened it by four inches so it ends just below my knee. I’m really pleased with the way that’s come out. It’s comfortable to walk in and it’s more flattering than my previous version.

Stylearc Toni front view

The fabric is a lightweight viscose woven from Macculloch and Wallis. Right now it’s still available here. It drapes very nicely, which is good for the style, but I used very lightweight interfacing on the collar to go with the fabric and that was a mistake as it’s come out a bit too floppy. This is the same fabric I used the pink colourway of for my first Vogue 1482 dress. It is very comfortable to wear and although it’s lightweight it’s relatively easy to sew.

I lost the pocket piece from the original pattern and had to make a new one. Unfortunately I didn’t make it quite deep enough to be perfect. But any pockets are better than none. The position of the pocket is better on this version because I took out some of the length from the top half of the pattern, raising the pockets up a couple of inches.

Stylearc toni side view

Here’s the back view. Last time I said that the centre back seam could be eliminated, but I’m glad I kept it. I had trouble fitting the collar to the neckline on this version – I probably stretched the neckline out while handling – and having the seam allowed me to fix the mismatch by taking the dress in a little at the top of the centre back.

Stylearc toni back view

Clio made the great suggestion of adding a zip to the centre front seam for breast-feeding access. I increased the seam allowance on the centre front seam to half an inch (or 1.2cm; it was 1cm originally) and interfaced the seamlines to make inserting the zip easier. I also removed the seam allowance from what was originally the centre front seam of the neck facing pieces so I could use the all-machine method of applying facings to the top of the zip and neckline from Kathleen Fasanella’s centered zip tutorial.

Here’s a closeup of the zip, which also shows the collar worn down rather than up.

Stylearc Toni close up

An unexpected bonus: because the only black invisible zip I had on hand was a 24″ one I can put the dress on by stepping into it rather than pulling it over my head.

Since we took these pictures the weather in the UK has turned autumnal and I’ve been wearing this dress with leggings and my grey boiled wool kimono jacket. I’m hoping it will keep going all winter with enough layers. I can even see me making a third version of this one day; I’d like to try it in something really crisp like a cotton poplin to see what happens to those drapes.

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Vogue 1482 purple 3/4 view

I liked my pink Vogue 1482 dress so much I made a second version. This one’s made up from a deep purple crepe de chine from Macculloch and Wallis. It’s a fibre blend I’ve not come across before: 20% silk and 80% acetate. Macculloch and Wallis describe it as having a very matt finish but I think that must mean by comparison to other crepe de chines. It’s not as shiny as a satin but it definitely has a bit of a sheen to it. It also creases as soon as you look at it. I ironed the dress before we took these pictures so you’re seeing it at its best here. The good news is that the creases will drop out on their own if the dress is hung up for a few hours so ironing isn’t strictly compulsory.

I had horrible doubts while sewing this as to whether the fabric was really suitable for the outside of a garment or should be kept for lining (the Selfish Seamstress’s epic rant on the subject has stuck with me) but it seems to have come out OK. And the fabric’s very pleasant to wear and wasn’t any more difficult to sew than any very lightweight fabric.

I cut this one out by laying the pattern on the fabric, chalking around the pattern pieces, and then removing the pattern and cutting along the chalk line. I find this method works better for me on very lightweight fabrics than trying to cut out around the pattern while it’s still on the fabric, which just leads to lots of messy jagged edges.

I used a self-fabric covered button for the back closure. There’s something strangely satisfying about making those up, although I suspect it would rapidly get boring if a garment needed lots of them. Just as with the pink version I had to make the self fabric loop for the back closure much skinnier than the pattern directs. I also meant to shorten the split this time, but forgot. Oh well.

Vogue 1482 back view

The long bias seam across the front has not come out brilliantly on this version. It looks fine when laid flat but there’s quite a bit of rippling when I’m wearing the dress as you can see in the picture below. With 20/20 hindsight it might have been better to stabilize the bias edges with some very lightweight interfacing and sew a conventional seam there rather than the French seam the pattern instructions use. And actually the seam doesn’t need to be on the bias; what I really like about this pattern is the overall shape of it and the pocket, and the pocket could just as well go in a horizontal seam. The seam doesn’t incorporate shaping so would be easy to change. I’d be inclined to make it slightly curved rather than dead straight across if I did change it as I think that would look more flattering.

Vogue 1482 showing bias seam

This version has the same pattern adjustments as the pink one: it’s the size medium with two inches length added at the hem and two inches added on the sleeves, split evenly between the cuff and the sleeve piece. This is a size bigger than I normally make in Vogue but my usual length adjustments. The exact choice of size in this style makes very little difference as it fits where it touches and nowhere else. Perfect for hot weather. I’m also hoping I might be able to keep it going a bit with leggings and a long sleeved t-shirt underneath when the summer finally ends because I love the colour.

Vogue 1482 purple back view


Kielo wrap dress front view full length

This is the Kielo wrap dress from Named Clothing that it seems like everyone’s made this summer. Understandably: it’s flattering, comfortable, and very quick to sew. I bought the pattern when I saw Laura’s lovely version, and ended up even copying the colour she chose.

I hadn’t made a Named pattern before and as my pre-pregnancy measurements fall between two sizes on their chart I made the larger of the two. This was a mistake as the finished dress is slightly too big for me. If you look closely the bust darts are too long, the armsyce is rather too deep, and the back is baggy. Not that any of that has stopped me wearing it a lot. It got five or six wears before it even got photographed for the blog. Another thing to be aware of is the length. The patterns are drafted for fairly tall people to start with, but according to the chart I still should have added two inches. After measuring the pattern I didn’t bother, as if it was much longer I’d be tripping over the hem. I love a pattern I don’t have to add length to.

I bought the PDF version of the pattern. I normally avoid PDF patterns, but this one comes with a non-overlapped copy shop version which makes it as easy to use as an envelope pattern – just print it out and cut. A nice touch is that the PDF is layered with one layer per size, so if you fit into a single size (and I think many people would in this dress as it’s only fitted at the bust) you can print off just the layer with your size on it and not have to worry about which line to cut out on.

Here’s the back view. Although the dress is quite narrow the long vent makes it easy to walk in. I should have taken those darts in a bit.Kielo back view

 

The only pattern adjustments I did were to make the ties slightly longer and to add inseam pockets. The pockets were very easy to do: I drew shapes on the pattern something like this, and then traced them off as a separate pattern piece.

 

Kielo line art with pockets

They aren’t the roomiest pockets but they’re a good deal better than nothing. Reality in blogging: I’ve got my keys in them in all the pictures in this post which you can see if you look hard. Another time I’d position them further up the side seam, away from the ties and closer to the armscye. This would make them a lot easier to access.

Kielo wrap dress pockets

The fabric requirements given for the dress are very generous. The pattern says 205cm of 150cm wide fabric for the size I made, but I got mine out of 150cm (and because I always buy a little extra fabric to accomodate length adjustments, I now have enough over for another garment). The fabric I used is a single knit viscose-elastane blend from Tissu Fabrics. They have it in a few different colours. This one is the sea green. At the time of writing it is still available. It’s easy to sew with and has got very good drape; here’s a shot of the dress in motion.

Kielo wrap dress action shot

This isn’t my best sewing. I was in a great hurry to get the dress made and ended up stretching out the neckline and armscyes when applying the binding. And I finished the hem with a very unprofessional zig-zag stitch because I didn’t want to have to wind an extra bobbin to use with a twin needle.

Despite the wrong size and the careless finishing I really like the final result. I’m tempted to make it again in a chiffon fabric to wear over a slip like the sample on the Named website. One thing that does puzzle me is that the instructions say to use a fabric with 20-60% stretch, and I’ve never encountered a chiffon with anything like that degree of stretch. I’ve seen several successful versions on other blogs in drapey non-stretch woven fabrics so I might just try regular chiffon and stick with the larger size. I’ve got a beautiful large-scale chiffon print in green, black and white that’s been lurking in the stash for years that could work for this.

Kielo 3/4 view

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Burda 127-10-2014 front view

Here’s a make that didn’t work out, Burda 127-10-2014. The annoying thing is that most of the problems were entirely predictable, had I thought about the pattern more carefully in advance. But I was carried away by the cute raglan seaming, the exposed zip, the pockets, and the roomy silhouette. Here’s the line art. Have a good look, maybe you’ll see what I missed.

Burda 127-10-2014 line art

It’s basically rectangular, and the bagginess only goes so far in accomodating my current shape, but that’s not the issue. The pockets are nice and big which is a point in its favour. I somehow managed to cut the sleeve bands horribly off-grain which is why they’re twisting, and they were a pain to insert because the polyester crepe I used does not tolerate even the smallest size mismatch. But none of that is the fault of the pattern.

Burda 127-10-2014 pockets

The problem is the shoulder line. Look what happens when I move my arms. The shoulder line creases and the whole dress moves up. The shoulder line is so dropped and curved that there’s no way you can lift your arms and hence the sleeves without lifting the rest of dress. And the shape of the shoulder is quite clear on the line art so this shouldn’t have been a surprise; I just didn’t spot it in advance.

Burda 127-10-2014 pulling

Some of the pulling is clearly being made worse by the distorting effect of my bump. Look at that drag line.

Burda 127-10-2014 pulling

Just for completeness, here’s the back complete with exposed zip. The back is so plain it really needs that zip detail. I’m slightly surprised Burda didn’t repeat the raglan seaming on the back to add a bit of interest.

Burda 127-10-2014 back view

I often have trouble getting the right zip for  a project but for once for once I got lucky. I found this one on eBay. The tape colour is almost an exact match for the fabric and the puller is a bit different: a short chain with a ball on the end rather than the usual zip puller. The back of the dress is so plain it needs all the help it can get. I didn’t do the greatest job inserting the zip but it looks OK from a distance. The neck binding isn’t great either because the fabric I used was a bit too heavy for the pattern and so the binding pattern piece didn’t have enough turn-of-cloth allowance.

Burda 127-10-2014 zip

I am going to put this dress away until after the baby and see if it’s any more comfortable when the bump isn’t taking up all the extra space in it.

Burda 127-10-2014 side view


Vogue 1482

26Jul16

Vogue 1482 front view

This is the best hot weather dress I have ever made. It’s Vogue 1482, a Rachel Comey design. The UK is going through an unpleasantly sticky heatwave at the moment and this dress has been a lifesaver. It’s so light and airy it feels like not wearing anything at all.

Here’s the line art.

Vogue 1482 line art

It’s basically a great big sack which means no real fitting is required. I added my usual two inches to the length, but at the hem rather than above the waist as I normally would because the long diagonal seam makes it tricky to add length anywhere else. I also added my usual two inches to the sleeve length by adding an inch to both parts of the sleeve. And finally I made the recommended size instead of going down one size as I usually would with a Vogue pattern. When you’ve got this much design ease in a style a little more won’t hurt, and it’s insurance for when my bump gets larger.

Vogue 1482 side view

The fabric is a very lightweight viscose from MacCulloch and Wallis, which at the time of writing is still available here. I suspect this may be the type of fabric known as challis. It was hard to cut out because it shifted a lot, but easy to sew and press. It moves and drapes beautifully. The pattern calls for French seams throughout and for once I actually bothered to make them.  Mainly that was so I didn’t have to buy new thread for seam finishing, so I can’t claim this is sewing to any higher standard than usual for me. I don’t have any thread at all that matches the pink fabric, never mind the number of spools I’d need in order to thread the overlocker as well as the main sewing machine.  So the dress was sewn using only the sewing machine with a random spool of purple polyester thread I had lying around. The purple blends surprisingly well, even where there is top-stitching.

Vogue 1482 back view

The centre back opening isn’t needed as the neckline’s more than wide enough to go over the head, but I like the effect. I think many people would want to make the opening shorter though. It only just clears the bra band on me and I have a long back. It’s closed with a little loop made from the fashion fabric and a self-covered button. The instructions for creating the loop didn’t work very well for me; I followed the measurements  on the pattern carefully and it came out too chunky. I replaced it with a much skinnier version. Otherwise I followed the pattern exactly and everything worked out.

Vogue 1482 back view closeup

The pocket is great. Very large and in just the right place. I thought it would be odd to have only one pocket but it seems to work. And it’s beautifully finished with more French seams. I wonder if left-handed people might want to flip the front pattern pieces so the pocket is on the right though?

Vogue 1482 front view with pocket

And finally for laughs here’s the full flying squirrel effect. Vogue 1482 back view extended

There is definitely going to be at least one more of these. I can see it being nice in a drapey jersey fabric, or a crepe de chine – basically anything lightweight and drapey.


Burda 130-06-2010 side view

This is Burda 130-06-2010, the first real maternity pattern I’ve made. I have to say I cannot tell the difference between the fit on this and some of the blocky women’s dress styles you can find in any issue of Burda. I thought it might have extra width around the bump area, but when I traced the pattern it was essentially rectangular. The zip serves no purpose that I can see.

Burda 103-06-2010 line art

I picked the style because I like the notched collar, and it looked simple enough to sew up fast. I cannot say whether the instructions were any good because the pattern came from a German language copy of Burda 06/2010 I bought on eBay. When I bought it I thought I might be able to get some help with the construction from Google Translate but what came out was so confused it might as well have still been in German for all the good it did me. I found that comparing the instructions in an English language Burda with the German issue and looking up a few important nouns was much more helpful. The structure is exactly the same in English and German so you can tell what each paragraph is about from the order they come in. Based on that I was at least able to find out which pattern pieces had seam allowances included and  what to add to those that didn’t.

The intended method of construction for the collar remained something of a mystery. There seemed to be two possibilities: sew the shoulder seams, attach the lower collar facing to the lower neckline first and then construct the rest of the collar as you would a notched jacket collar; or make up the whole collar unit first including all the facings and then stitch the lot to the dress. There is no back neck facing and the neckline seam is finished with binding, so either would work.

In the end I went for the second option, using the instructions for the collar on my black Burda jumpsuit to help construct the collar. Then I sewed the shoulder seams, attached the collar to the neckline, and bound the collar seam. Finally I sewed the side seams, adding side seam pockets which are not in the original pattern, and hemmed the armsyces and bottom edge. It seems to have come out OK! The neckline seam isn’t totally smooth around that deep v neck but the collar covers the puckers. I should have used a smaller seam allowance around the collar instead of Burda’s standard 1.5cm and then maybe I could have got it in flat. Next time.

Burda 130-06-2010 front view

The fabric is a lovely golden coloured cotton poplin from Misan Textiles; a birthday present from my parents. The original dress was also made in poplin but the collar looks softer than mine. I used Vilene F220 to interface my collar, which is a lightweight fusible, but Burda’s version used G785 which is even lighter than F220 and also has some stretch.

Burda 130-06-2010 back view

This dress benefits from being worn with a loose belt to contain some of the volume above the bump. Partly that’s because the cotton has quite a bit of body; I wanted something crisp. I think you could also make this up in a drapier fabric and then you wouldn’t need a belt. Years ago I had a similarly shaped ready to wear dress – no darts at all – made from a navy artificial silk that never needed a belt, although it probably wasn’t quite as wide as this one as I remember it being a bit of a wriggle to get on as it didn’t have a zip. I wore that one until the seams started to give way.

I added in-seam pockets.

Burda 130-06-2010 side view

I’m happy with this and I love the colour. It’s just occurred to me that if I’d bothered to put in the zip I could convert it later on by adding some darts, but a belt is fine too. And now I have enough clothes that fit to get me through a working week again.


Toni dress closeup

I’ve been wanting to make the Stylearc Toni dress ever since I saw it on Kristin’s blog. It’s a style I’d wear at any time, but it’s particularly good right now as I’m pregnant and rapidly running out of clothes that fit. The Toni isn’t a maternity style but it has plenty of room for a bump. It also has pockets, shoulder coverage, a nice high collar, and sews up quickly: all good points.

Stylearc Toni dress

The length is unusual. From the pattern illustration it looks like it’s meant to hit at the bottom of the calf. I normally have to add a lot of length to most patterns but my flat pattern measuring suggested this one would stop just below the knee on me so I didn’t bother. I must have gone wrong because it’s come out at midcalf, which is the length I try to avoid above all others. If I make this again I’ll shorten it. I wouldn’t want to make it any longer unless I made it up in a stretch fabric, as the hem width is very narrow indeed and I’d struggle to walk in it comfortably.

Stylearc Toni long view

I made this up in a very silky lightweight woven fabric that came from the Misan Textiles sale room. I’m not 100% sure what the composition is but it’s definitely man made. I picked it because it’s very drapey and has a certain resemblance to the silk the pattern recommends, but it’s also tricky to press, has a slight tendency to cling, and frays at the slightest provocation. And yes, it’s monochrome again. But at least it’s not black.

Stylearc patterns use much smaller seam allowances than most home sewing patterns: 1cm on the main seams and 6mm around necklines and anywhere with tight curves. I was worried that the seam allowance at the collar would fray away entirely before I finished sewing it but it worked out in the end. And the small seam allowances make it much easier to sew accurately, and accuracy is essential for the tricky stage of setting in the collar and sewing the front seam.

Other than getting the collar sewn in symmetrically this is a very easy make. I couldn’t figure out one of the steps, which seemed to be about understitching the outside edge of the collar which sounded like a very odd thing to do. The actual words were ‘sew a flat stitch’ so perhaps it was topstitching that was meant instead, although I can’t see any topstitching on the technical drawing. The step was optional and skipping it doesn’t seem to have caused problems. I added topstitching to the armscyes, which are finished by neatening the seam allowance and turning it back. Topstitching isn’t mentioned in the instructions but I don’t see how else the seam allowances could be expected to stay put unless you hemmed them by hand, which as far as I’m concerned is not an option.

The back of this dress is extremely plain. There’s a centre back seam but it’s entirely straight so you could just cut the back on the fold. Another time I might do that. I suppose removing the seam makes the back even plainer but I had a hard time making that long straight seam look acceptable in my tricky fabric.

Stylearc Toni back view

The side drapes are fun. Mine stick out quite a bit more than the technical drawing suggests they would. The pattern suggests optionally sewing a small weight in on each side to make them stay put. I overlocked a scrap of fabric around a couple of pennies for each side and sewed that to the seam allowances but it doesn’t seem to have made much difference as the drapes still tend to pop out when I sit down. I like the pointy effect though.

Stylearc Toni side view

Here’s the obligatory ‘look, I have pockets’ shot. I am trying very hard to avoid making things without them these days.

Stylearc Toni front view

I had some serious doubts about this dress while I was sewing it. I fell out of love with the fabric very quickly, and when I put the dress on my dressform halfway through construction it looked more like a very unflattering choir robe than a dress.And then I sewed the side seams and that transformed it completely. I wore it for pictures (where it caused hilarity amongst local dog walkers), and kept it on afterwards, then the next day I found I wanted to wear it again which is unusual for me. I’m not sure if I’ll make another of these; it’s a fabric hog and most of the fabrics that would be suitable are expensive; but the one I’ve got is definitely a success. The pattern was beautifully drafted and Stylearc have a lot of unusual and attractive designs. I think I’ll be making more of their patterns in the future.

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