The summer dress made of “blue lizard” fabric

When I got all my new fabrics, I knew which one I wanted to work on first. Even though my husband said I would look like a blue lizard in an item made of this, it just had to be the ridiculous snakefoil jersey, didn’t it?

It’s a pretty lightweight fabric with plenty of stretch, so I knew a summer dress would be possible. Where I would wear such a thing, is still a mystery to me, but I somehow couldn’t keep away from the fabric. Maybe it was because it is so shiny, or maybe I have a yearning for outrageous dance clothing to an extent that even I didn’t realise. Somewhere in my mind, it says that it would be perfectly ok to wear a dress made of blue lizard fabric to a summer festival.

In any case, making the pattern was really easy. I simply used the pattern I made from taking apart my old dress in this post and changed the neckline so it wouldn’t be as low as it was before. I basically just cut the whole top of the bodice as a square to adjust later.

The neckline I had in mind, would be gathered at the top and end in a collar around the neck. I actually ended up pleating it, cause I felt too lazy to gather.

I also attempted to make more of a molded shape for me, not by adding darts but by cutting out and reshaping a whole section of the bust:

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I forgot to line up the seams with the skirt seams, so I need to remember to redo that for future dresses. I added a waistband to “hide” that fact a bit, or at least in my mind, make it look a bit less obvious.

This is the dress:

The back of the skirt is slightly longer, although I realise now that to really get the effect I wanted, the difference in length between front and back should have been larger. Since I only had about 1.5 metres of fabric, that was not an option though.

The waist sits a bit lower than I wanted and the bust seams sit just a bit under the bust, so I will redo the collar and shorten the bodice a touch.  The whole dress was sewn with my overlock machine.

To finish the edges, I used the rolled-hem foot of my overlocker. This is the second time I have used it, and while the hems are not as rolled as they could be, I really like the finish.

Here is the finish on the arm:

 

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And here it is on the skirt:

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Unfortunately, the fabric has a tendency to lose it’s colour. While trying it on, I suddenly saw lots of white specks all over the front of the dress. When I tried to brush them away (don’t know what I was thinking), more appeared! It seems the blue “varnish” comes off the edges of the little metal plates that the coating is made of. I wonder how that would fare in a washing machine. I probably have to hand wash it, and even then I’d be worried about the loss of colour.

I am very tempted to do this again and improve on it, but since the quality of the fabric makes it so hard to rework it or even wear it more than once, I think I might have to find a better fabric first.

New fabrics for new projects!

This is more of a preview than anything, but I am just so excited!

After waiting for what felt like forever, I finally got all the fabrics I ordered in the last month. I can’t wait to sew them all up!

I stacked them up in a nice pile and took a picture for you to see:

 

new fabrics

From top to bottom, I have got:

– a digitally printed jersey (it is much steadier than I imagined and is only stretchy one way, so it will be great for constructing a party dress)

digitally printed stretch jersey

– a turquoise lining fabric (for a jacket)

– a turquoise gabardine (for that same jacket)

turquoise gabardine

– some black scuba jersey (for a dress and a tracksuit jacket)

– a shiny snake foil jersey (for a dress, what else could be made out of such an outrageous fabric?)

blue snake foil jersey

– a purple, a black and a blue cotton jersey (to make some t-shirts)

 

The top four are from Calico Laine, while I ordered the bottom four from stoffe.de

We have had some issues with DHL lately due to strikes, so both parcels came to me on the same day after waiting 4 weeks for the one and one week for the other. I know, one week doesn’t sound very long, but if you’re used to next-day shipping, it seems almost unbearable. 😉

Also, the 4-week wait for the Calico Laine order was partially due to them not having certain fabrics on site, so altogether, it probably took about 2 weeks to get to me once they sent it. However, I reordered from them since and the shipment was sent within a day.

I plan on making some t-shirts with the cotton jerseys and dresses with the scuba and print jersey. Maybe I will finally get onto sewing up that short tracksuit jacket too.

So far, I have no idea what I will wear the shirts with, as I have not yet made a single skirt or pair of trousers. To be fair, I probably only wear trousers once or twice a year. Since I like making t-shirts, I might have to get into the habit though.

The turquoise gabardine and lining fabric will be made into a summer jacket. I have had great success constructing a coat out of Burda 6921 and will attempt to make the short version for the warmer weather.

 

 

Making a t-shirt

There are two reasons why I made a t-shirt over the weekend:

1. I like winging it when it comes to sewing. This often leads to failure, but I somehow cannot help thinking “What if I change this detail?” when I’m in the middle of a project. Maybe it’s my strong desire for variety, maybe I just love to see myself make mistakes, but there is something rewarding about deviating from the well-known path. So despite not having a t-shirt pattern, I decided I could create one from a pattern I own by adapting it.

2. DHL is on strike… While I sympathise with the delivery guys, I am desperately waiting for some fabric which was meant to come on Friday. So while trying not to go crazy over all the things I want to make with those new fabrics I don’t have yet, I decided to make something simple with some leftovers.

So, here is what I did:

I used the fabric and pattern that I made this dress from. The dress bodice pattern would serve as my t-shirt template. Similarly, if you have a T-Shirt that fits you well, you can use that as a template. I didn’t have a huge amount of fabric, so unfortunately the shirt had to be a bit shorter than I would like.

Here is the pattern on the fabric, while I started cutting it. I cut the bottom pretty free-hand, but cut outwards from the bottom of the pattern, which sits at my waist, to make sure it’s not too tight around my stomach.

 

pattern on fabric

 

I also cut the neckline a bit higher, so it wouldn’t be as low as it is on the dress.

 

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I cut to about halfway, then folded the pattern in the middle, so I could cut the rest out along the lines that I had already cut.

 

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Then I cut along the hemline to straighten it out:

 

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I thought it might look interesting with a perfectly straight hem, not a curved one, as usual. It turned out that wasn’t the greatest idea…

 

One of the bodice pieces got a V-neckline, just for a change.

 

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I also used the sleeves I made for the dress before. Here are all the pattern pieces cut out:

 

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The neckband of this one is probably the most interesting part. I cut it as a triangle made of three pieces:

 

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Here they are sewn together (with my overlocker):

 

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and pinned on:

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You can see how it pulls the neckline in, since it is smaller.

 

And here is the result of my neckband-creation:

 

neckband added

 

 

After sewing the t-shirt together with the overlocker, I finished it off with the Merrylock 3040, which I am still trying to get to know. I am starting to wonder if there is a way to change the height of the position of the presser foot , as it just hates anything above two layers of fabric even at the loosest setting.

In any case, here is the finished product:

t-shirt front

 

t-shirt back

 

It looks a bit crooked, which is ok with me, as it’s stretchy, so it won’t be noticeable when I wear it. However, you can also see the warped hemlines, which I blame the Merrylock for. Admittedly, it might be slightly my fault too, as I am not the most precise seamstress yet. Nevertheless, I feel like the coverlocker doesn’t exactly make things easy for me, which is ironic, really, as I bought it for exactly that reason.

The whole thing probably took me about two hours. Next time, I will sacrifice an old t-shirt, so I have a pattern that I know will work.

 

How to add a “t-shirt” neckline

Since getting my overlocker, I have been trying to make a decent neckline for a while and have finally found a version that works for me. Previously, I had been under the impression that the way to sew it on was to leave one shoulder seam unsewn, then put in the band, then close that shoulder seam.

The result was always way too stretchy and I had some wavy, disappearing necklines that I ripped out again or changed so that they would work as a bias binding on the inside of the dress.

I really wanted that t-shirt neckline though…

My problem was obviously that the band I was putting in was always too long.

So here’s how I managed to do it successfully on a dress I have been making for the summer:

 

fits exactly

 

1. I made sure my neckline band was about as long as the neckline of the dress by holding it loosely onto the dress. I had taken a strip of the dress material and ironed it to fold it into a band.

 

before sewing

2. I sewed the ends of the band together.

 

lined up sides

3. Since my band only had one seam, I lined that one up with one of the shoulder seams. Finding the halfway point of the band, I lined that up with the other shoulder seam. The non-folded side of the band is going to line up with the neckline of the dress.

 

all pinned on

 

4. I pinned. While doing that, I had to stretch the band a bit to fit onto the neckline, since I was putting it on the outside of the dress. You can see how wavy the dress is becoming around the neck as it is pulled by the tight band.

 

5. I sewed with the overlocker. While doing so, I had to make sure the dress fabric didn’t escape me. Somehow it still managed, so now the band is a bit wider in some places. It might be better to sew with the inside of the dress facing upwards, as I could have seen it better then.

 

Well, here is the finished product from the front:

 

one more or less perfect neckline

 

 

and the back:

 

and from the back

 

and while we’re at it, here’s the whole dress:

 

the full dress

 

from the back

 

You can see that the shoulders are a bit wonky. I blame my coverlocker for this, but I will master it at some point, I’m sure. The stretchy material is quite forgiving though, so you can barely see it when I wear it.

The fabric is from stoffe.de, the British equivalent is myfabrics.co.uk. At 17.95 euros/15 pounds it is rather expensive, but I treated myself to two metres of it and I think I might have enough left for a short (ending just under the bust) or very short (think cyberdog-short, which ends over the bust) tracksuit jacket. I guess it would be more of a shrug.

It’s a lovely fabric (if you’re into colours) and was really easy to work with. The stretch is pretty good and it has a great drape to it.

I realise that it’s crazy colourful, but I bought it with the sole purpose of wearing it in a field in England this summer, while dancing to some UK Hardcore and/or Drum’n’Bass.

 

 

Butterick pattern B5209

I have made one dress from this pattern, so far. I can tell you already though that I will be using it again, and again, and again.

It’s pretty much a perfect fit in my size without any alterations. When you’re used to trying to do full-bust adjustments and taking in everything around your waist, this is just amazing. If anything, it is maybe a bit too small around my waist (while still having enough room for my boobs, yay!)

This leads me to think that vintage patterns from the 1940s are something I should look out for. On the pictures, the drawings are very much showing an exaggerated hourglass-figure, but I was worried that this wouldn’t mean the pattern itself was actually made for that, especially since it has been updated to fit modern sizing.

Here are the pattern pieces for the top part:

the pattern pieces

 

I am quite high-waisted, so the midsection of the dress is a tad long, which leads to it being a bit small. Next time, I will simply take it up about an inch and then add the skirt. So yes, it’s not quite perfect for me, but taking out an inch is a really small and easy adjustment.

I also made this dress into a maxi-dress, as I wanted to originally make a 70s-style garment, but reckoned that this would be the closest pattern to what I wanted.

I am still on the mission to make the 70s dress from this post, but summer is fast approaching… Also, I have had this chiffon fabric for about a year and I finally wanted to make something with it.

What I really love about this dress is that it’s actually a halter-neck in version A and then you simply add a back and sleeves to make version B. This is so clever and I would have never thought of it. Plus, it looks really good!

The construction was very easy. Just like every Butterick pattern, the B5209 comes with detailed instructions and pattern markings. All the stitches used in the instructions are explained in a glossary.

This is the front top pieces all sewn together:

 

front piece

I didn’t use a lining, but the instructions are very clear about how to insert one.

Most of the trouble I had while making this garment were fabric-related. The chiffon was a nightmare to cut, as it was sliding all over the place. By the time I got to the skirt, I realised there’s no way I didn’t need to overlock all the seams, as it was fraying like crazy, so I switched from my normal machine to my overlocker.

I actually finished with a more or less rolled hem. It isn’t really making those typical waves, but I do think it looks rather nice. This was the first time that I used my overlocker’s rolled hem presser foot and I found it to work really well, even though I clearly don’t have the tensions right yet.

The finished product looks a bit more elegant than hippy, to be honest, but I still think it is really lovely and I will make sure I wear it this summer (with an appropriate undergarment).

 

Other dresses I made from this pattern can be found here, here and here.