Summer Sewing Gets Going

Let’s just pretend that it hasn’t been ages since my last actual sewing post and get straight into what I’ve actually made in 2017. Although not much has been blogged, I have been busy travelling to Australia for classes with Susan Khalje (a reflective post is in the pipeline), working on some serious up skilling and making undies. Oh, and I did move countries. But for now, let’s focus on two recent makes, both patterns from Ann Normandy: the Slip Dress and the Shift Dress.

The Slip Dress

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Described as ‘couture quality, A-Line dress cut just above the knee’ this dress appears simple. Although there is nothing technically challenging about this garment (no welt pockets made from the finest mohair collected by elves at midnight from the underbellies of baby Angora goats on the steppes of Siberia), finishing techniques ensure a very polished garment both inside and out. All seams are flat felled so you could wear this inside out and not have people stare at you awkwardly, thinking you’d gotten dressed in the dark. Or dressed by your small child. Always a bonus.

As my linen was on the finer side I decided to underline with a cotton batiste, slip stitching the hem onto the underlining for a truly invisible finish. And, because I think I know better that the person who designed the pattern, I chose to only turn the neckline and armscye seam allowance twice instead of the recommended three times. I should have listened as it would have given just that little more room to pull it over my head (why do I go off like that?) Next time I will try it turned three times.

As I like my dresses to hit at a certain part of my leg, I also lengthened the pattern by a few inches (I am only 164 cm) so it may be worth checking the length before you cut out your fabric.

Another nice feature of these patterns is that they can be cut against the grain, using the selvedge as the hem. As this went right against what I had been taught by my great sewing teacher (Mum), I wrestled with this decision and ultimately  cut on the grain as I wasn’t up to experimenting as Ann suggested.

The fabric is from Linen Club, a store I originally discovered in Oman, purchased at a random store in Malaysia with my two new sewing friends Gerda and Betty. This was my first time shopping with my new colour palette and both fabric enablers thought the colour was nice on so I purchased it.

Overall, a lovely, slim fitting summer dress that is perfectly suited to the tropics . I can see myself wearing this all the time over the summer and hope to make at least one more before I head to Croatia again in June. And, because I believe in offering public service announcements… this dress allowed me to defend myself from a random spot of street boxing and still look totally collected. Awkward but totally collected 🙂

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Now, on to The Shift Dress

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Here getting it’s first outing two hours after completion, this is my second make from Ann. Featuring a great neckline and beautiful square armscyes, this version is also made from Linen Club linen, purchased in Muscat, Oman over a year ago. This linen is a little heavier than my Slip Dress version above so I did not underline it but I did cut it against the grain, running the hem along the selvedge. I also chose to topstitch in a contrasting thread to highlight the details. Sometimes I think I’m really clever and then I see the work on those Russian bloggers and want to go hide in a dark hole forever, not touching my machines again!

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Once again, flat felled seams were used throughout garment construction. For some reason I found the instructions really difficult to follow. The accompanying black and white images were not helpful as the lack of colour made distinguishing details difficult. At one point I put the instructions aside and ‘thought like Ann’ to complete the garment. I think I did her justice 🙂

So, some action shots.

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I love the neckline and other square details but think it’s a little big overall. As I made up the smallest size I have no option but to consider taking in the side seams a smidge next time.

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Now that I have made up two of Ann’s patterns, I would definitely recommend them to you and plan to make another version of each one very soon. Until then…

Chat quietly amongst yourselves.

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Victory Patterns: Hannah

Rarely does a pattern appear that stylistically sums me up and rarer still does a pattern appear that I can sew without grading between sizes. A massive thank you to Kristiann for drafting a spectacular garment that apparently makes me “look ten years younger,” according to my dear friend Naomi who just happened to have stuck her head out the door in the shot below.

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I would love to offer glamour shots but the truth is, I can’t. This is me in real life. The Middle East is gritty, in all senses of the word, and that is part of its charm. Things get dusty about three seconds after cleaning and the shamal at this time of year can be relentless. You wouldn’t think there was much to blow around in the desert but I can vouch that there are tonnes of sand not anchored down by anything bar the odd camel.

On top of the gritty factor, I myself am not that refined. I don’t have a hair or makeup stylist, I don’t have straight teeth, I wear glasses, I’m not all toned and tanned, and I apparently have a big nose (according to a Lebanese hairdresser I went to for the first time shortly after moving here). And because I know you are wanting to ask, no, I didn’t ask her whether she had looked in the mirror lately nor did I come out with a pithy saying such as it takes one to know one. I am, in fact, a working mum to two teenagers who gets up at 5am every day in order to be teaching other teenagers at 7am. I drag myself home at 4pm and try to muster up the strength to prepare a half decent meal but usually end up serving cereal. Actually, I lie; I make them serve themselves 🙂

This, my friends, is me. Nose and all. In my new dress.

Made from a thick, shockingly hot pink linen from The Fabric Store in Melbourne, this fabric was destined to be a Vogue pattern Ivona, my sewing bestie, selected for our Rome meet up this July. As this is not a colour I usually subscribe to, it was put to the side as I concentrated on other things. I even forewarned Ivona that I probably wouldn’t get time to sew it up before the trip. But next thing I knew, there was Hannah and there she was in my inbox. Just like that.

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In review: the instructions are impeccable and result in a well constructed garment. The only thing I did differently was that I hand stitched down the bindings and the hem facing as I don’t like these things showing. And, I’m yet to add buttons as I can’t find any here.

Next time? Yes, the fabric is ready to be cut out but first of all I must lengthen the dress a smidge as I like a bit more coverage for times when bending is required. I also like to consider the needs to the viewing public as I came close to scarring my son for life with images of his mum’s home made knickers starring at him from across the room as I bent to tie up my shoes. Oh, the shame of it all 🙂

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So, highly recommended for the pear shaped beauties out there, plus anyone else that likes structural design in clothing. I can’t wait to see what comes from the stables of Victory Patterns next.

Until next time, chat quietly about anything but the nose. Not the nose!

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