Completed: Calamity Cami

Crikey, I've just realised that this post marks my first blogiversary! I can't believe how quickly the year has gone. When I first started out, I decided to trial it for a while and see what happens. I didn't expect it to become the constant in my life that it has. I have learnt so much over the last year as I've pushed myself to try new techniques, look at different patterns and try out new fabrics. I'm not sure how much of that would have happened if I wasn't sharing my experiences with the world. One thing is for sure, I wouldn't have met all of you, either virtually or in real life. I've said it before, sewing people are some of the best people ever. I love that I have reignited friendships and made new ones. I love, and appreciate, that you come back week after week and that you give your time to comment. I feel privileged to be part of a community that is so supportive of each other, keen to help where they can and are just so damn nice.

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Anyway, enough gushing! I have a dress to share with you today. I raved a lot about my first Cami dress and it has been in constant rotation since I completed it. I don't think a week has gone by when I haven't worn it. It makes me happy and I feel good in it. This could only mean one thing, I had to make to another! Looking back, it is unusual for me to use a pattern more than once, this is probably down to the fact that I spent last year trying to clock up many different patterns for the challenge. But now I'm a free spirit there's nothing stopping me working out my TNT patterns or making the same one again.

However, there was a hiccough in this love affair. This is the dress that nearly wasn't. Almost everything that could have gone wrong with the construction, did. As you'll see, it was all because of me, not the pattern. I used the black cotton with small flowers that I picked up at Mood last November. I've been using cotton a lot recently. I've been struggling to get my sewing output up this year and have leant towards cotton because it is easy to work with - there are no surprises with this fabric. 

After checking my measurements, I cut out using the pattern that I altered last time. The problems started early when I was working with the darts. I stitched three out of four of them incorrectly, totally missing the stitching lines on one side. In my defence, I was distracted. There were cute baby orang-utans on the TV and I had one eye on them and one on the darts. Lesson learned - don't watch cute animals when sewing!

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The collar is my second attempt. Somehow I managed to sew it so it wasn't symmetrical. It was completely off. By the time I realised I had clipped and pressed it into place, although luckily not stitched it to the bodice. It was probably salvageable but I had enough fabric left over to try again so I just recut. When stitching the skirt to the bodice, I missed the correct number of folds on the right placket. Not once, but three times! After correcting it, I realised I was testing my patience so walked away from the dress for a week. 

After cooling off and determined to become friends again, I came back and inserted the zip. I tried the dress on to check the fit and buttonhole placement only to find that it didn't fit. I was completely stumped. I knew that I had cut it out properly and remeasured myself to check that I hadn't suddenly gained an inch. For the life of me, I couldn't figure it out. The dress went back on the UFO pile for another week. I figured out the problem on my second fitting. As I was adjusting the waist I came across this.

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How did I miss a giant accidental tuck?! More unpicking ensued and from here, thankfully, the rest of the construction went according to plan. I had no problem with buttonholes. I've discovered that if I reset my machine between each one, they come out perfectly. It seems I'm not the only one to notice this, Marie recently spoke of a similar problem when she had a Janome. It is a little tedious but at least I'm no longer facing the prospect of unpicking buttonholes.  

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The skirt on this version isn't as full as the fabric was reasonably narrow. I like the difference though, it feels a little more fitted and I like the cleaner silhouette it makes. This dress is perfect for day to night. Again, it is unlined and this is something I need to start thinking about for future dresses. While it won't be a problem in the summer, this dress has stuck to my tights and my coat and ridden up a little when walking. I need to find a good slip pattern. Any suggestions?

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The colours of the flowers means I can mix it up with accessories and my beloved cardigans and jackets. I suspect that this one will be worn a lot too. Despite all of the hassles in making this one, the Cami is still one of my favourite patterns and I hope this won't be the last one. Have you had major problems in constructing one of your favourite patterns?

Completed: Beating the Winter Blues Cami dress

I'm so excited to share this make with you. I'm hoping you have all seen the Cami dress by Pauline Alice. As soon as I saw this pattern I knew it wouldn't be long before I made it but I just needed to find the right fabric. I debated about using a solid purple that is in my stash but then I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show with Kelly and Vairë Gwîr and found this wonderful fabric. I knew immediately it would be right for the Cami.

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I made a quick toile of the bodice to check the fit after grading out a size from the bust to waist. I was worried about the fit as I've never been able to wear a rtw shirt without experiencing gaping. It fit reasonably well but I noticed that the front was higher than the back and decided to try my first full bust adjustment. Like many of my sewing experiences recently, I'm not sure why I hadn't done one before. It made the world of difference. I do wonder if I made it a little too big but as I won't wear the dress buttoned all the way up I didn't bother to tweak it. I'll spend a little more time perfecting the fit for my bodice though. As I had to add quite a lot I added extra darts at the bust. 

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I was desperately hoping that the construction of this would be easier than my skirt. To my immense relief it was. Partly because the cotton was a dream to work with but mostly because the construction is logical and the steps are easy to follow. I whipped up this dress in two evenings. I thought the collar would be the hardest part but it was quite simple. I did turn to Pauline's sewalong here to make sure I did right. I have to show you my top stitching. It is the best top stitching I've done. Ever. I was starting to believe that accurate, neat top stitching was beyond me but something clicked last night. 

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The pattern is designed with a reasonably full skirt made from two rectangles. It calls for the rectangles to be 39.4" wide. I decided to make it even fuller and went with the whole width of my fabric, about 44". I love the skirt so much, as demonstrated by my cheesy grin below! 

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To make the dress a little more winter friendly I chose the long sleeve version. The button holes were made without a hitch and I chose some interesting buttons from my red button pot (yes, I have coloured coded my button collection). The left side closes with a regular zip.   

The colours are reasonably accurately in the photos. The blue is rather bright and the flowers are red, pale pink and burgundy. I wore this to work today as I just couldn't resist showing off the colour. I got a couple of really lovely comments and I felt happy in it all day which bodes well for the dark winter days ahead.