Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A Coco and a Camber

AKA The Great British Sewing ME!

I've been tentatively taking my first steps in dressmaking over the past few months. Considering what sort of things I'd like to make, what I am most likely to wear, and above all what is least likely to make me swear profusely. I began last year with a few Colette Sorbetto tops- a great summer staple which I wore a lot. Then my sewing machine broke. I think it was something simple like the timing or whatever, but it was very grind-y and not very sew-y. So I borrowed my nan's old Bernina sewing machine. She bought it in 1964 and it still runs like a DREAM! However, it wasn't Miss Betsey and I missed her lovely sturdy frame and reliable stitching. So I spent the best part of £100 having her fixed and serviced, ready for another 40 years of impeccable service.

And the first project I have sewn on the new, improved Betsey is a Merchant and Mills Camber dress. I wanted to make something simple, but elegant with no zips or buttons or anything fancy like that, so this pattern is ideal.


I ordered the fabric, pattern and thread from Ray Stitch, and I was completely won over by the great service, packaging and MUSTARD postage bag.

(as May would say 'my top stitching has gone for a walk...')
I immediately got to work, washing, drying, ironing the fabric and cutting the simple pattern pieces carefully. I have never made a Merchant and Mills garment before, and wasn't sure on the sizing. So I did some research and blogs reassured me that the pattern is drafted beautifully, for a loose dress with lots of ease. I thought I'd start with a cotton poplin- it wasn't too expensive, and I love this print and colour. I'm hoping to make it at a later date in a light denim for summer and layering. I enjoyed sewing the darts, making and attaching the binding and slotting all the pieces together. It was pretty quick and simple really, though I did get lost on the facing/neckline assembly. I didn't really understand the instruction due to my inexperience. Unfortunately I ended up with a too-small neckline, so had to undo a few stitches. I think that this was down to not paying attention to the seam allowance. I managed to unpick a few stitches but it made a little hole and didn't sit flat on the neckline, so I made a matching piece of bias to go around the back of the neckline. It looks a bit messy but really this one is my 'wearable toile' (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).
I erred on the side of caution and cut a size 14. However, I am a triangle shape and have narrow shoulders, a waist then rather large hips and behind, so the first 'draft' ended up HUGE! I am a fan of ease but it looked like a sack. So I unpicked the sleeves, and the side seams and made some adjustments, taking around 1.5cm off the armholes to make the shoulders narrower, and pulling the side seams another cm or so. I also took about 2 inches off the hem, but really next time I will shorten it properly so it doesn't alter the a-line shape of the skirt.

Now I am thrilled with it! I've been wearing it with grey wooly tights and my lovely clog boots
I can't wait to order some of Merchant and Mill's denim for my next one. Maybe this time I'll get the neckline right! I'm very pleased with it and have worn it a lot! I've also been busy on Bernie Bernina too.


First up, a Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress in mustard ponte roma...
I bought the pattern at Liberty and the fabric and jersey needles online. I already had the mustard thread in my Nana's old sewing box so I was good to go! This dress was another brilliant, easy make. I found working with knits OK, as ponte di roma isn't toooooo stretchy. I think I stretched it ever-so-slightly around the neckline, but it's an otherwise neat make! I accidentally sewed the side seams in zig-zag stitch but it hasn't made much of a difference to be honest. I'm definitely going to make more of these- just searching for the perfect striped knit now! I've worn the mustard one a LOT.

 (here I am posing like a numpty at Make, Do & Mend) 
(sorry about the ugly boots)
I also made a Sew Over It silk cami, in this beautiful blue rayon I bought at their stall at The Handmade Fair. I'm VERY pleased with this as slippery fabrics can be a pickle. But I learnt a lot from it- LOTS of pins! I like the french seams and even finished the bottom seam with a rolled hem tool on Nan's machine. I love the finish of this, but it's a crying shame I didn't pay enough attention to the sizing- this is much too small! I will have to give it to my skinny sister.

And I also knocked up a quick skirt using the Paris Skirt tutorial. This was SO quick and simple. It's really lovely, but I have't worn it very much. Perhaps in the spring and summer- the beautiful John Lewis fabric doesn't look quite right with tights.

Anyway, these are my latest sewings! Of course I've been busy with other things, updates to come soon. I've just bought some lovely light cotton in a black and cream gingham print- wondering whether to make a washi dress with it. It looks like the kind of dress that'll be easy to sew and easy to wear. I really hope spring comes soon, I'm fed up of heavy jumpers and jeans now!


13 comments:

  1. So gorgeous Kath, absolutely love the design of the dress and it really suits you.
    Kate x
    justpootling.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Kate, it's so easy to wear xxx

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  2. Wow You have been a busy girl. I really, really love what you have been sewing.That merchant and mills fabric is gorgeous and looks like a 'toast' dress!
    Now that is the highest from of praise I could ever give!
    looking forward to your next sews.....
    bestest daisy j x

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    1. Golly, thanks daisy j! I have definitely decided on a gingham washi dress for my next make. Just need to purchase the pattern (think I'd rather have a paper pattern than PDF) and some elastic thread to try out the shirring! x

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  3. My goodness you have been so busy...
    I love what you made, it's fab! I wish I could make something to wear myself, that would be brilliant... Maybe, if I am feeling brave, I will try to make a pj or something :-). Until now I only made cushioncovers! See you, love from Mirjam.

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    1. Try it Mirjam! It's scary at first...then all you have to do is follow the instructions. It's so satisfying! x

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  4. blimey - how'd you get so good so fast?! Jealous much - am tempted to try a coco now I've seen it on you! x

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    1. The coco is alarmingly simple! Honest Ginny, you'd rock it. x

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  5. You look blooming gorgeous! Even the thought of dressmaking brings me out in a cold sweat so well done you! ;) xxx

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    1. Thanks Amanda, it still brings me out in a cold sweat too ha ha! We will overcome...x

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  6. Gorgeous makes... and so many! Love the fabrics you have chosen, too - the skirt makes me feel so spring-like!

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    1. Thanks lovely! It looks more impressive because I haven't blogged any sewing for months and months ;) can't wait for warmer weather to wear my skirt. I am thinking with a breton top- like the Boden catalogue styling!

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