Completed: The Diamond Winifred

Thanks for your comments on my last post. It is good to know that many of us have found some sort of normality during tough times by crafting. This week has been similar to last but more importantly I have the first completed item to share with you! Let me present The Diamond Winifred. I fell for Winifred as soon as Abby released her. Cute front tucks that create a box pleat effect, a flowing skirt, no fastenings, an elasticated back covered by a fabric belt, kimono sleeves - what is not to love?! And she has lived up to expectations despite a couple of self-inflicted imperfections. The style is flattering, the design is simple yet full of interesting features.  

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I looked in my stash for fabric and chose the final piece I picked up in Mood - a stretch cotton with white and blue diamonds. The stretch is perfect for pulling this dress on and off.  Cutting out took some brain power as there was a very real danger I wouldn't have enough fabric or the front pieces would have needed to be cut slightly off grain. In the end I managed to squeeze them out, on grain, by cutting in a single layer and fully rotating the pattern piece - thankfully it didn't make any difference to the direction of the pattern. As a result I made no attempt to pattern match although I have managed to keep the lines of the pattern consistent (so wasn't a fluke!) 

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I bought the pdf pattern and it was a slightly disappointing experience as the layout is wasteful. There were some pages where only a few centimetres were used and in some cases there were a 5mm discrepancy in matching the lines. I had to re-stick a number of pieces once I had roughly cut out each piece. However that frustration was forgotten as soon as I started sewing. 

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The measurements on the pattern differ to what you normally see as the waist measurement is one inch smaller than the bust measurement. I chose the size based on the bust, as the excess fabric would be pulled in by the elastic at the back and whipped up a toile. It told me that I had the right size but I needed to add extra to the front as the side seams finished a inch closer to the front than they should. I also needed to raise the back shoulder seam by the same amount. I had expected to need to raise the armscye, like I did on my Mae blouse, but this one fits perfectly. 

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Construction is as easy as you would expect for a pattern aimed at beginners. I did have some trouble setting the collar though. I couldn't get it sit smoothly where it joins the shoulder seams despite ripping it out several times. I'm just about satisfied with how it is sitting now after tacking it down in many more places than recommended in the instructions. I'm certain that this issue is my fault and that I missed a needed alteration on the collar when I moved the shoulder seam. Luckily the rippling is covered by the collar but I should go back to the pattern and work out what I did. I didn't want the pattern to be interrupted by the thread so I catch stitched the hem and sleeves by hand. I'm pleased with the result as it looks almost invisible - you would have to look very closely to find any sign of the thread in the blue diamonds.

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Unfortunately the finished fit isn't quite as good as I had hoped it would be. I have a slight ripple around my waist at the front where the darts finish. I wonder if this is because the waistline of the pattern is a little higher than my natural waistline and I didn't pick this up in the toile. I added a popper to the belt as the fabric slips too much to stay in place. The hem is straight, despite how it looks in some of the photos. I'm not going to worry about this as I quite like the slight hi-lo look that is created by the heels. 

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Despite the fitting issues I absolutely love this dress and feel great in it. The balance is very good (or would be if I got the waistline in the correct place!) and the sleeves are great. Kimono sleeves are quickly becoming my favourite as they give a lovely line as well as being easy to sew. The belt at the back is a really neat feature - I love it when designers give as much though to details at the back as well as the front. I even bought new shoes to go with it - the dress was screaming out for shiny blue heels and who was I to disobey? 

Completed: The Green Mae

I seem to be on a roll with second makes. I've worn my vintage inspired Mae a few times and it is definitely one for the office. However, I wanted those scallops to be available for play as well as work.  Recently, I was washing a piece of cotton I picked up from a local charity shop for about £6. I was drawn to the bottle green with the black scribble and the print (African?) at the bottom. Originally I thought it would become a skirt but then I realised that it would make a perfect weekend Mae.

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I tinkered slightly with the fit from my first. I feel a little uncomfortable wearing my vintage inspired one untucked as it is a little too big at the hips. I also wanted to make the most of the print so I took this one in a little and it fits much better. However, it seems that I have accidentally put some stress on the back and there is a quite a pull on the buttonholes at the middle of my back. I think I will need to let the seams out a little to see if it makes any difference. I raised the sleeve opening a tad and they are much less likely to reveal what bra I am wearing - a risk that is constant in the other one!

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With the help of Twitter, I chose to use the iridescent buttons from my stash over the smaller pale green ones I was also considering. They change from cream to green to brown or some combination of and provide a nice contrast to the dark colours of the fabric. 

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I was a little lazy with the seams and finished them by overlocking. My overlocking foot is broken, one of the metal guides has fallen off meaning the finished result isn't as neat as before but I can live with it. Just. Must get on and research that overlocker... Amazingly I didn't need to hem the blouse as the fabric doesn't fray. 

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I had hoped to pattern match all the way round but I didn't quite have enough fabric. Either the sides, or the back could match. I opted to match the pattern at the back, as I think pattern matching is less noticeable at the sides, especially when you are only matching one section.

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This blouse turned out how I hoped it would, except for the back, which is disappointing. It means that I like this blouse, rather than love it. I probably should have made another toile to check the alteration. I hope I can fix it as this could be a weekend/evening staple which I'm currently lacking. Have you ever tinkered with a pattern that fitted only to find an unexpected fitting issue? 

Completed: Vintage inspired Mae blouse

I've mentioned before that I often stand in front of my wardrobe each morning and ask what I am going to wear that day when it looks full. For work I have enough trousers and skirts but I'm lacking in tops to pair them with. The beautiful Mae blouse by Abby at bluegingerdoll kept whispering that it was part of the solution and I bought the pattern with some of my Christmas money. 

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I chose to focus on the fit for this project. I made my first toile after grading the pattern out one size between the bust and the waist. As I had hoped the front fitted well, straight out of the packet. This pattern is designed for us girls with a slightly larger cup size meaning I didn't need to worry about an FBA. What I didn't expect was the size of the back bodice. It just wouldn't do up after the second button. I slashed the toile in a straight line just away from the dart on each side and, ably assisted by Adam, worked out how much extra I needed - 7cm on each side at my hips! I transferred this to the paper pattern and then tried a second toile. This one revealed there was too much length in the back bodice and I removed about 2cm. I promise that the top fits better than it looks in the photos. I thought I had pulled it down enough before taking the photos but clearly I hadn't. The neckline does sit smoothly and there isn't that much excess fabric at the back. 

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Alterations completed I cut into this gorgeous blue cotton at Darn It and Stitch when I popped in to stock up on seam rippers. I just couldn't resist it and knew immediately that it would work perfectly as a Mae. For the buttons I wanted some that wouldn't detract from the pattern but compliment it and chose plain white ones with a little shine. 

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Constructing the top is straightforward. I decided to finish the facings by using white bias tape, which I also added to the side seams. I love little details on the inside! Normally I don't like facings but these are different. They are a little wider than you normally find and I think this makes a big difference. They sit nicely around the neckline and the armsyce and don't pop up when you put on a jacket (a reoccurring problem for me). My facings are interfaced with a lightweight white cotton as try as I might, I couldn't find my fusible interfacing anywhere. 

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Creating scallops was new to me. The finished look of scallops made me think they were tricky but some careful cutting, slower sewing and this tutorial from Abby revealed that they can be simple. It was great to see the curve take shape when ironing out the seam line. I was surprised at how smooth the curves are on my first attempt. 

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Even more surprisingly the button holes were a breeze and worked first time on all of them! I slip stitched the hem in place and I'm glad I took the time to do this as the stitches are practically invisible. I chose not to hem at the recommended 1" as I prefer my tops to be longer so settled on 5/8". 

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Overall I really like this top. It feels fitted but not constricting. The neckline feels as elegant on as it looks in print and I love the kimono sleeves. However, they finish a little too low at the sides and I would raise this for the next make. It looks great tucked into a skirt. It will also work untucked with a pair of trousers without a belt that makes me look pregnant. I'm not - it is the knot of the Miette skirt belt! I can't wait to brighten up my dark coloured skirts and trousers for the office this week.