By Hand London: Anna

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I finished Anna a few weeks ago and only had time to photograph it now. This is my first time working with sheer chiffon, and it was a pain to cut and to work with. I sandwiched the chiffon with wrapping paper and cut through the layers which made it somewhat bearable, but it was still hard to work with. It also makes the dress look very formal, which means it will probably not get a lot of wear.

I used an invisible zipper in the back, French seams along the side, and serged the hem and folded it over.

This dress was also hard to photograph. Maybe it was the stark white background with the flowers on it, but

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Project Details:

Pattern: Anna, from By Hand London.

Pattern Sizing: Size 2 – 16.

Description: An effortless Summer dress featuring double pleats at the bust, kimono sleeves and a paneled a-line skirt. Variations include both slash and v-neck options, plus midi and maxi skirt possibilities and a dramatic thigh high split. Super quick and simple to make, cut it short for the perfect festival dress, or make it worthy of the red carpet with a maxi skirt and thigh high split.

Did it look like the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Fabric: Sheer polyester chiffon, which was such a pain to cut and work with.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, had I chosen to read them.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Yes. I really like long dresses.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: None. The sides were done with French seams, and I serged the hem and folded it over, then stitched it down.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, definitely.

Scout Woven Tee: Grey Knit Scout, #2

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Two Scouts in a row!

Not much to say about this pattern, other than it looks like a store-bought t-shirt pattern. This one was made from grey ribbed fabric, leftovers from my McCalls 6559 tank dress. This time I paid careful attention when setting in the sleeves.

I’ve already worn Scout #2 to work, to WWDC (the Apple developer conference), to San Francisco, to go out, to run errands — pretty much suitable for every occasion.

Scout Woven Tee: Grey Knit Scout, #1

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The majority of my clothing purchases are t-shirts, in every kind of neutral colour imaginable: grey, light grey, white, black. I finally decided that I should be sewing my own t-shirts, and it wasn’t as complicated as I thought it would be.

My first mistake was sewing in the shoulder seams incorrectly, so there is an exposed seam by the shoulder, but I decided to match them, providing a design detail. My second mistake was cutting the centre back in two pieces instead of cutting it on the fold. I serged the centre back shut and ironed it down, and it seems fine.

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Project Details:

Pattern: Grainline Scout

Pattern Sizing: 0-18

Description: T-shirt with capped sleeves.

Did it look like the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Fabric: Grey knit jersey.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t read the instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? This is my first knit Scout, and it won’t be my last.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I made this as a knit Scout.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes.

Pleated Bodice Dress

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I received some Japanese dress books last year, and only had a chance to try them out now. Most of the dresses in Sweet Dress Book are loose-fitting and basic, and the patterns are simple.

This project was almost a disaster. I cut a size large, according to my measurements, and it was incredibly baggy. I took it in the side seams and somehow managed to make it work.

I really should have ironed this before I started taking pictures. I’ve already worn this once before to work, and it’s very comfortable. I made some adjustments to the fit and inserted an invisible zipper.

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Sweet Dress Book.

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Pleated-bodice dress, the book version.

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Pattern review is below.

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Project Details:

Pattern: Pleated Bodice Dress, from Sweet Dress Book

Pattern Sizing: small-large

Description: Pleated bodice dress.

Did it look like the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Fabric: Microfiber, with an an invisible zipper

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t read the instructions

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The pattern as is has loads of ease. I do like that it has only two basic pieces.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I took it in at the side seams, made the bodice more fitted, and added an invisible zipper. I used seam binding instead of facings.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? This dress is very comfortable. I definitely might make another one.

Colette Laurel: Wool Gabardine Version

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Finally, proof of sewing! And it’s not even black.

I finished my wool gabardine Laurel late December last year, and only shamefully had a chance to document it today. I haven’t worn it out yet, but it’s only because it is much too cold to wear dresses right now.

In full disclosure, I made two (!!) muslins of this before I was satisfied with it. I also cut it incorrectly the first time and had to sew it twice. I serged the seams, hand-basted the sleeves in, and hand-sewed the hem. All in all a lot more work than I’m used to and with much struggling, especially since I’ve turned to knits and never look back, but definitely well worth it.

Pattern review below.

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Project Details:

Pattern: Colette Laurel.

Pattern Sizing: 0-18.

Description: Jacket with skirt and peplum.

Did it look like the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Fabric: Wool gabardine, with an invisible zipper.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, had I chosen to read them.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? This is the second time I’ve made this pattern. I really like it, simple, yet versatile.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Yes, many. Lowered bust dart by 2 inches, shortened hem by 1 inch, lowered the neckline by 5/8 inch, removed 1 inch from the center back, made a narrow upper back adjustment, adjusted the sleeve cap and removed all the extraneous ease from it, and lengthened the sleeve to try to hide my sleeve (somewhat unsuccessfully.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Definitely. I see many more Laurels in the future.

Sewing 2013: Year in Review

1. No 13 Loose Drape Tank Top, 2. Secret Sewing, 3. Simplicity 1819, 4. McCalls 6559, 5. Simplicity 1819, 6. McCalls 6559, 7. DIY Side Tie Top, Side #1, 8. No 1 Loose Drape Top, 9. DIY Side Tie Top, Side #2, 10. Colette Laurel, Gatsby Version, 11. McCalls 5808, 12. Colette Laurel, Gatsby Style, 13. Fabric Bag, 14. Fabric Bag #2, 15. No 13 Loose Drape Tank Top, 16. Bridesmaid Dress

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Sewing has been very sporadic this year. There’s been loads of Drape Drape knits and a few woven projects here and there. I plan to finish sewing my way through Drape Drape 1.

I still have a lot of projects on hand that I’ve finished and haven’t photographed yet, as well. Hopefully I’ll get to the backlog of project documentation that hasn’t happened yet, including:

1. Bridesmaid Dress, finished sometime around August 2013
2. Drape Drape No 3 Drop-Waist Gather Drape Dress, finished around Oct 2013
3. Red knit drape dress, finished around May 2013
4. Colette Laurel, finished around Dec 2013
5. Velvet skirt, finished around Dec 2013

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Favorite Project: Drape Drape No 13 Loose Drape Tank Top

I haven’t worn this out yet since I started it almost two seasons too late and it’s been freezing cold outside, but I really liked this project. It’s versatile and will make a good layering piece.

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Most Worn Project: No 1 Loose Draped Dress, Version 2

I wore this out many, many times over the summer. It’s comfortable, can be dressed up or down, soft, and was a quick and easy make.

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Most Interesting Project: Simplicity 1819, Steampunk Dress

This is still in its muslin stage, but already I know it’s very different from anything I’ve made before. It’s not exactly the most practical of projects, but it’s one of the most fun to make.

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I received a lot of Japanese sewing books for Christmas, a draping book, and another Drape Drape book, so this year hopefully include a lot more sewing.

Drape Drape No 13 Loose Drape Tank Top

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Side view.

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Front view.

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Side view, #2.

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Back view.

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I like this project. Quick, easy, a good layering piece. I layered it with a lace top here, but for going to work I’d probably wear a solid-colored top underneath it, and a sweater over it. It was very cold outside when I took these, and it started snowing shortly after.

I think I’m addicted to sewing Drape Drape projects: no finishing the seams, no muslins, fast, easy, soft, comfortable and wearable projects, but I really do miss sewing with wovens sometimes. Pattern information as follows.

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Pattern:

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Project Details:

Pattern: Drape Drape No 13 Loose Drape Tank Top

Pattern Sizing: I made a size medium.

Description: Draped tank top.

Did it look like the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Fabric: Black tissue knit.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t read the directions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I really like this pattern. It’s a good layering piece, and it looks unique.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: None.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, but I wear mostly black and grey, so it’s unlikely that I’ll be sewing it again.

Halloween 2013: Homemade Black Swan

The Black Swan-stagram.

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For those of you that haven’t seen the film, the Black Swan is the ballet counterpart of the White Swan — graceful, measured, sensual but not overtly so, bold, violent, passionate and dominant.

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Natalie Portman reference photo.

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The only part of this costume that I made was the skirt. The skirt is twelve layers of tulle, sewn in layers of three layers of tulle, and sandwiched together four times until I got twelve layers. I did not want a sad, not-very-poofy tutu, and I was also worried about making one that was a little see-through, but this one works well enough I think. Tulle is really, really hard to work with: slippery, hard to cut, moves around a lot, and the Esteemed Sewing Assistant loves to sit on it. This skirt is definitely not precise, but I think it works. If you have to make anything precise with tulle, cut very carefully and work very slowly. Tulle has a mind of its own.

I cobbled together this costume from last minute purchases from Amazon (white tights, shoes, tiara) and things that I owned in my closet (black leather bustier, loads of eyeliner). To deal with the see-through factor (since I didn’t have a leotard bustier) I’m wearing a black high-waisted undies over my tights, just in case anything shows in the back, which it somewhat does. My outfit looks nothing like the official Black Swan costume from the waist up, since I failed at putting feathers on my original bustier, but I’m ok with taking artistic liberties.

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Of course, I’m not the only one who dressed up. Esteemed Sewing Assistant absolutely hates his costume.

No 1 Loose Draped Dress, Version 2

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Finally, now with pictures.

This is the second version of the No 1 Loose Draped Dress, from the Japanese book Drape Drape. This is the third version I’ve made now, since it’s quick to make, wearable and comfortable. I’ve already worn this to work a few times. This is the last version of this pattern that I’m making.

I really likes sewing with knits, but I don’t feel like my sewing skills are getting any better. Nevertheless, more Drape Drape to come.