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.

Pauline Alice Cami 5.jpg

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!

Pauline Alice Cami 4.jpg

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.

Pauline Alice Cami 6.jpeg

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.  

Pauline Alice Cami.jpg

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?

Pauline Alice Cami 3.jpg

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: Dark denim Miette

2014 has been a little slow to start in terms of sewing but I'm pleased to say I have completed an item. At the beginning of the year I knew that I needed a more coordinated wardrobe and that a few basics would go a long way in helping achieve this. What better way to start than with a dark denim Miette wrap skirt?

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt 3.jpg

As I was tidying up my stash over Christmas, I pulled out the Ralph Lauren medium-weight denim I picked up in Mood when I visited last November. I originally fell in love with the colour. I love dark denim and have often found it hard to find the right shade in RTW items which meant I couldn't pass this up. I debated for a while whether this would become a Kelly skirt or a Miette - both would look great but the Miette won. Only because I had the pattern and I was feeling impatient for a quick project.

Others have waxed lyrical about this pattern and I can see why. It is a very simple pattern that delivers a great result and would be absolutely perfect for beginners. I whipped up the skirt in a couple of hours of leisurely sewing. There are no complicated pieces to cut out or attach, everything is in a straight line. The trickiest bit was turning the ties through and that's because the fabric is quite thick. Tilly helpfully warns you not to use too thick fabric at the beginning for this very reason. I had to seriously grade the ties to make them lay flat once they had been turned.

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt 2.jpg

I chose to add the pockets. This is an unusual step for me as I tend to shy away from pockets in skirts and dresses. I don't know why and hope that those of you who add pockets to everything won't hold it against me. They were straightforward to assemble and they match up well at the centre seam. There is a small area in the centre seam, just underneath the pockets, where it looks like the fabric is under a bit of stress due to the thickness of six layers of fabric. I reinforced the seam and it seems to be holding up well. 

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt.JPG

The seams are a mix. Most are overlocked but the side seams are flat felled. I couldn't resist the idea of using flat felled seams with denim and I wanted to add some top stitching details along the side. I chose a bright aqua green for the top stitching and then went a little mad! The pockets, side seams and the ties are all top stitched. I had thought about using the green on the hem but realised that would be a little too much. Instead I used a navy blue which you can't see at all. It honestly looks like invisible thread and I was relieved that none of it needed unpicking.  

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt 5.jpg

One of the things this skirt is known for is the fact that the wrap at the back doesn't come apart enough for you to lose your dignity and I have again proved it. I wore this skirt while travelling for work to Switzerland and it survived moving luggage from trains and walking up outdoor stairs to an airplane. Neither piece moved and it kept me warm! (I realise I don't look warm in the photos though - it was rather windy in Oxford today even in the relative shelter of the gardens in Merton College.) I also realised the value of the size of the pockets - they are big enough to hold your passport, boarding pass, keys and phone without any chance of them falling out. 

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt 6.jpg

I love this skirt and have worn it many times since I finished it. It definitely is a wardrobe staple and will be constantly in rotation. It works with causal tops for the weekend and could be dressed up for an evening - perfect day to night wear! Somehow I don't think this will be the last Miette to cross my sewing table. 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin