I made the green version of this top first (in a Liberty Lawn remnant left over from a dress I blogged earlier in the year). I really did think it looked such a simple little pattern that I could run it up in no time at all. So it had a few frilly bits. That surely wouldn't make much difference.
Deary me. Haven't I learnt anything from the last few years of sewing? Things are almost never as simple as I think they will be.
Those five frilly bits were an absolute menace. They took ages and ages and ages (I mean, when measured against my initial expectations). Jeez, they're cut out as circular strips which, when pulled into a straight line, sort of frill up a bit. But they have you make tiny little narrow hems, which is really quite time consuming on circles. Anyway, I did manage it, and then sewed them on to the top itself in straight vertical lines. But with the way the frills flip about this way and that, you can see the raw edges where they've been sewn on, if they sit just the wrong way at the wrong moment, and I don't like that. No one else would notice, so it doesn't matter terribly, but I know it isn't ideal, so it peeves me a bit.
However, I like the top so much that I immediately wanted to make another one in black lawn. Looking for comments on the way this pattern is made up, I came across some very helpful advice from Karen at Did You Make That. What she did to get around both the narrow hems and the raw edges, was to cut out double the amount of frill pieces and sew them wrong sides together, turn them the right way, and then sew them on. Genius, I tell you. Making up the second top was so much more pleasant, thanks to Karen. And I took the opportunity to cut up a very fluid silk top I had had for at least twenty-five years, and which was on its way to the charity shop, and use it in all its muted blueness for the underside of the frills. Gosh, I love this top.
The pattern is very simple. Even the frills are no trouble if you do it Karen's way. There is no zip, and only one button, with a loop. I used shop-bought bias binding for the arm holes, instead of making up the bias strips (I tried but couldn't get the little monkey things to lie flat). All the seams are french seams, except for the centre back, as it made the opening a little tricky to finish, so I just folded them back on themselves and sewed them down. They look neat and tidy still. And the shape of the top is just fab. I don't find it boxy, as others have; I find the fit just right on top, with a little flare towards the bottom. There is a lot of ease in this pattern, so you can be fairly stingy with choosing your size. I chose a straight size 8, which normally would be too small on the waist for me. There is plenty of room still.
I think I will keep on making different versions of this top, I really do. I love it.
I am in the process of making several things. One is a silk skirt. The yoke of it is lined but the skirt itself isn't. I'm going to try out finishing the seams with some rayon binding (as prompted by Doortje). Thank you Doortje!
Once again, I apologise for the truly awful photos. This dress really deserves better, but the weather here in the UK (again) couldn't be greyer or murkier with rain, and it's here to stay for the whole weekend. It's not even as if we desperately need it any more (we could hardly complain when it rained non-stop for seven weeks in April and May, when the water was so scarce the reservoirs were drying up). But now the hosepipe ban has been lifted I can complain all I like!
Anyway, sorry about the photos being murky. I lightened them but my ISO has made them grainy. And I need to learn how to position photos horizontally instead of just plonking them somewhere.
Before starting on the full-skirted version of this dress, I had half made an A-line version. "Half made" because I have made the outer shell and attached the zip, but have not yet started on the lining. I have been procrastinating on this because the lining fabric is patterned and I've discovered the red hearts on it show through the white skulls on the shell. I'm not sure whether to go ahead with it and am a bit heartbroken about it (well, as much as is acceptable when it comes to a dress, for goodness sake). I want the dress to have the skulls on the outside and the red hearts on the inside, but my plans may be scuppered. It's for a Christening (yep, it's the devil in me).
I haven't come to the point yet, have I? Well, I really like the A-line version and, being 5ft 2 (there, I've mentioned my height yet again) and not having a very narrow waist in the first place, I have avoided dresses with gathers around the waist. Hip is fine; waist, not. But in this case I took a chance and made the full-skirted version. Yay! I love it. Now I'm worrying about when I will be "too old" to whoosh around in girly dresses, seeing as I've discovered I like them so much. However, it hasn't stopped Vivienne Westwood, so it won't stop me! Not that I am anywhere near her age yet, but I'm thinking ahead.
Right. The details: I made the dress in a size 4, with a size 6 for the waist. Incredibly I did not have to alter the bodice length at all (often I shorten them) and really amazingly it fits me across the back (usually I have to take account of my narrow back) So, apart from the waist size, I made no fit alterations. I did lower very slightly the v-shape at the top centre-front of the bodice.
The pattern is a pleasure to put together. You make the shell, you make an almost exact copy for the lining, sew them together, hem, and Bob's your uncle!
I used a Crantex Fabrics vintage floral cotton I got on e-bay. It has a lot of body, more like a quilting cotton than a lawn. I also used it for the bodice lining, and a beautiful silky red fabric for the skirt lining. I almost always get my lining fabrics from Iana Fabrics on e-bay. They are very good quality, in my opinion. She has never let me down. Oh dear, I just bought 2m of black lace whilst copying the link for this post. Jeez, no wonder I am always poor as a church mouse.
I highly recommend this dress pattern. Not only is it easy to put together, not only does it seem to suit everyone, but it's really comfortable to wear, too. I will try to get better photos when the weather is not so gloomy.
Sorry about the lack of any effort at all for this photo. I just chucked the skirt on whilst taking the Iris photos.
Anyway...a few weeks ago I made another Beignet skirt, but haven't got around to blogging about it until now. I wear my grey one so often I thought I could do with another, in a brighter colour but, strangely, I prefer the non-descript grey one. The grey one is stretch drill, and really soft, though it creases badly, but it feels really comfortable to wear, and it goes with lots of things. The red one is a cotton (non-stretch) drill, which is very nice fabric, but I put pockets in this version and I think I prefer it without. I don't like the way they break up the line of the side seams. I could always take them out but I am too lazy and have moved on to other things. The facings are a batik cotton,and the lining some sort of silver acetate.
I am planning yet another version in a non-stretch mid-blue denim but will leave it a while, so as not to bore you too much all in one go.
I also made up Butterick B5335, view B, which is a very simple raglan-sleeved top. It took me hardly any time at all, as there are only back, front and sleeve pattern pieces, and after sewing it all together there are just a couple of narrow hems required to finish it off. I made it up in a stretch (very) brocade of some sort. It's an odd fabric, feeling slightly foamy/springy to the touch. Goodness knows what it's made of. Because I was having trouble with the hems on the bottom and sleeve edges, I used a very short and concentrated zig-zag stitch on the seam line and then just trimmed close to it. I like the crinkle effect it's made.
I have also made a Cambie dress (the full-skirted version) in a vintage floral cotton - just need to take photos - and half finished another (A-line version) in a skulls and roses cotton.