Tag Archives: DIY dress

Carmenklänning

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Hej hej! Can you believe summer is almost over?  My fiance and I enjoyed a quiet weekend which included dinner out at a local German bar (after he patiently accompanied me to the fabric store for the first time) and lots of sewing. I wanted to get another summer dress finished before the end of the season, and I knew I could finish this one before fall weather takes over, so I spent a leisurely weekend sewing a summer dress. I’ve got to make hay while the sun shines–literally! In a few months it will be dark for most of the day.

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I followed the instructions in Swedish Burda magazine 07/2014 for the tiered dress they charmingly called a “Carmenklänning–” a Carmen dress (for its Carmen Miranda ruffles). I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but I think it’s surprisingly cute.

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As the magazine promised, this was really easy to sew! I finished it at a leisurely pace over weekend. The pattern fit accurately. The only trouble I had was with the ruffle in the off the shoulder part.IMG_1439

The instructions told me to only gather the ruffle piece between the straps in the front and the back, but not gathering the sides meant I had to take out about 4 inches of extra fabric from the sleeve area on each side.  Before I did this, the neckline was drooping in the front and the off-the-shoulder sleeves looked really weird. Luckily, this was easy to fix by just taking it in about 4 inches on each side. Next time, I think it would be best to gather the whole thing or just make the ruffle piece shorter.

This was the first time I’ve ever made my own bias binding. I was surprised how easy it was to do and how little material I needed, which was great because I only had a little over 1.5 meters of fabric. I don’t have a bias tape maker so I used the sewing pin method described here on Creative Little Daisy’s Blog.  It’s such a clever DIY idea! Of course it took a little more time than having the proper tool would, but it got the job done. I used bias binding for finishing the armholes and neckline around the ruffle, and for the straps..

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Closeup of neckline, and a happy doggy!

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It was also the first time I made a dress with an elastic waist.  Why haven’t I done this before?  It’s so much easier than a zip!  Another great thing is this will still fit as I get in shape for our wedding in two months.  Nothing is more frustrating than sewing something up and it not fitting by the time you’re done–especially when you forget to add the seam allowances like I did.  The pattern only goes up to a 44, so I graded this pattern up to a Burda size 46 the easy way (using the tutorial here on BurdaStyle’s website), and ended up with something closer to a size 44 in the end, so that was pretty silly of me.  At least I had the elastic waistband to save me.  Next time I’ll remember my seam allowances!

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Hopefully I will get at least a few weeks wear out of this dress before the fall weather sets in.  If not, I can always wear it when we visit California, where the sun is always shining!.

What are you sewing right now? Are you trying to make any more summer items before the warm weather ends?

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The Vanadislunden Picnic Dress

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I know it’s spring when I see wild daffodils!

Hej Hej!  After a couple months of hibernating, I looked outside and saw that it was spring, so I decided it was time for a new post! Well, I haven’t just been hibernating, we’ve also had some big things going on.  Like moving our wedding from Scotland to California.  We had planned a lovely castle wedding for June, but it all got to be too much pressure on us and my family, so we talked to my parents and agreed to get married in the fall close to my hometown.  I spent two straight weeks rediscovering the joys of planning yet another wedding from abroad. I was researching venues 24/7, booked an awesome one, and have been busy nailing down some of the other details.  After all that, I decided to take a break from sewing, and everything else! Phew, wedding planning is very consuming!

Anyway, with the big details out of the way and the save-the-dates sent, I finally started a(nother) new project, based on the bodice of Lekala 5212.  I’m still in the cutting phase.  I also have made an Elisalex muslin and have put my Monthly Stitch Miss Bossy Challenge for March on the back burner because I was overthinking how to resize the vintage pattern, but I will get around to it.  I have always been one to just dive into a pattern head-first, without measuring the pieces or making adjustments, so I think trying to do it the right way overwhelmed me, because I froze up a bit in the process!  While I am working on finishing one of these, I don’t want to completely abandon my blog, so I thought I’d share something I made last summer.

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This is Simplicity 2444, and I guess what you would call a wearable muslin.  It was made at the end of the summer last year, so I only wore it once before it got too cold. Image

This is such an easy pattern to put together! I lined the bodice and enclosed the zipper in the lining. I do not know how I did that, because this was one of my first zippers and I was just kind of faking it til I found the Sunni’s Craftsy class on zippers last fall and learned out how to do it properly.

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Pattern: Simplicity 2444

Fabric and materials used:  I used around 3 meters of cotton fabric I bought ages ago when I lived in Montreal, from a little fabric shop run by a sweet old couple who had terrific prices.  I just love the roses!

Things to try next time: I had a fit issue with this, probably thanks to my narrow shoulders–there is gaping at the underarms, which seems to happen to me a lot, and a lot of gaping at the chest. It makes me wonder–do I have a hollow chest, or is it just the pattern? I think I may try using this gaping neckline adjustment tutorial from Phat Chick Designs next time I make this to see if it helps.

New Skills/Lessons learned: I only used the bodice, and did my first full circle skirt.  Hemming that was a little time consuming, but I am glad I know how to do it now, thanks to this Colette tutorial.

Would you make this again?:  Yes, when I am in the mood to make a muslin and adjustments!  It’s a very flattering pattern thanks to the waist darts.

I wore this dress out today, for an impromptu Easter Monday picnic on Vanadislunden.  Eugene and I were cleaning the house to prepare for my lovely friend and maid of honor’s visit this week, when he looked out at the sunny weather and suggested he prep a picnic. He made us some nice sandwiches, which the dog tried to steal, and we stopped and bought beers and chicken drumsticks at the grocery store.

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ImageImageWe found a nice sunny spot on the hill, next to a building which looks like fortress, but is actually a water reservoir.  Vanadislund is a pretty neat place with a large dog park, playground, church, and it’s where a lot of locals come in the summer to picnic, sunbathe, exercise, and walk their dogs.  A lot of people had the same idea as us today.

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It was wonderful, and the dog had fun too! 🙂 I hope you had a nice Easter weekend, and happy sewing!

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Lady In Red–By Hand London Georgia Dress

Laaady in reeeeeedddd!

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By Hand London Georgia dress in red cotton canvas

I still have to hem it and adjust the straps, but I am excited to share my this one.  After letting it sit in my pattern stash for a few weeks, I finally dived into By Hand London’s newest pattern, the Georgia dress.  And what a perfect project to follow up my challenging (and still unfinished) Burda off the shoulder dress.  This fantastic pattern came together in two evenings, which included tracing and cutting my size.  It was so easy, and very well drafted.  My measurements fit the hip and waist measurements on their size chart almost perfectly, except in the hips. The hips were a little tight in the finished dress, but I expected that because I my hips are about a half inch bigger than the size chart.  Also, I didn’t use a stretchy material like they recommended, which would have helped. My bust was a couple inches smaller around than the size chart, but all I had to do to fix this was to tighten the straps a little in the front. Easy peezy!  Usually I have gaping in the underarm area with most patterns that are a little large in the bust, but not with my girl, Georgia!

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While I was attaching the skirt to the bust, I noticed that it wasn’t quite lining up to form the “crisp point” the instructions talked about. On closer inspection, I realized that I had attached the bust piece upside down!  It wasn’t too noticeable in the way the skirt hung, and fixing this would mean ripping out the lining where I had already trimmed the seam allowances, so I decided to just roll with it.  Or rather, bounce with it.  It definitely resulted in some va va voluptuous cleavage!

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Remarkably, Georgia holds them in!

I like the way this dress could be casual, pinup-y, or formal. There are so many possibilities!  I think I have a new go-to pattern.

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He likes wearing red too.

Side note: I haven’t done a photo shoot since my mom had me model for her eBay vintage clothing business in high school, so it felt really weird taking these photos.  Thankfully I had a very patient photographer–thanks Eugene!

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