I was recently asked to be part of the pattern testing process for Anna Allen Clothing’s latest garment – the Pomona Pants. A versatile pattern that comes with 3 different views, shorts, wide trousers and tapered trousers. I love Anna Allen’s patterns, they are just …
This week I have been making a Demeter Dress for my summer holiday wardrobe, as I am off to Tenerife next week. Depending on virus outbreaks, but lets not think about that!
I picked up this beautiful mustard cheetah viscose lawn from the fabric godmother open day and have been saving it for something special. The fabric is normally available in 3 colourways on the Fabric Godmother website. But as it is out of stock it would also look amazing in this Atelier Brunette Ochre viscose. The Anna Allen Demeter dress pattern is available on her website.
I was actually part of the pattern testing for the Demeter dress pattern, so it always holds a special place in my heart, and it really is a favourite of mine. It was also my first time pattern testing, so a learning curve, and a great insight into the pattern making process. One thing that I quite enjoy with the testing process is having to follow a pattern carefully to the letter. I usually rush my sewing and steam ahead without reading the instructions properly, often assuming I know what I’m doing. So testing has helped me to slow down and take care with my work, being more precise. I do often still switch the order of the steps, but at least I read the instructions now! You can also read about my experience pattern testing the Dayo Blouse.
The pattern is designed to be longer, but I know for myself I prefer it shorter, it suits me better and with British weather I can team it with tights, boots and a jumper during the colder months – most of them!
I’ve also got the pattern down to an art so now I can fit it into under a meter of fabric. I usually go for the sleeveless version, which is view B on the pattern. I lay the two bodice patterns pieces at the top and I then ignore the skirt pattern piece and just cut a rectangle as wide as the width of the fabric. The pattern calls for 2 panels, that are then gathered in, but I just use whatever fabric I have and just do less gathers and it still looks just as good but saves fabric.
When I pattern tested this dress I followed the pattern to add pockets in the side seam, but as I used s heavier linen it ended up looking a bit bulky. Like I had lumpy hips. Therefore for this version I opted for no pockets, but may add patch pockets at a later date.
The original pattern also calls for self bias binding to be cut and turned inside, but as this is a bit of a fiddle, especially when using thinner viscose I opted for ready made binding. I already had this navy binding in my stash and I did a quick test to check it would work and decided to do bound neckline and armholes. I think these make it look really effective.
Finally to finish it off I added a large turned up hem, probably about 10-12cm. Not only does this add a bit of weight to it which helps with the drape, it also means I have some extra length should I accidentally shrink the viscose, as I have down in the past.
So with all my tips, tricks and shortcuts above I managed to sew the whole Demeter dress up in about 2 hours. I really recommend it as a quick effective make.
You can check out the rest of the Anna Allen Patterns.
I’d love to hear what you think or if you’ve made one…
Thanks for reading
This week I have been lucky enough to test the new Dayo Blouse pattern for Sewing Patterns by Masin. As soon as I saw the shout-out on Instagram asking for testers I jumped at the chance. She is fairly new pattern designer, but she already has the beautiful Belen bodysuit available. So I was excited to see what she was going to do next.
Enter the Dayo Blouse/Dress pattern…I love the look of it, with the beautiful sleeves and tucks at the neck. I just couldn’t imagine wearing it, or it suiting me. Regardless of this I was excited to test it, and see how it turned out.
I decided to pick this beautiful fabric from my stash. My mum informs me was all the way from Thailand. My dad brought it back as it was left over after working there. I love inherited fabric! It is a fine cotton voile with lurex spots, which is semi sheer and drapes beautifully. My interest in sustainable fashion means I like to work with natural fabric whenever possible.
This pattern comes with two options, the Dayo blouse or the Dayo dress, I chose the blouse as I don’t think I could pull off a full cream dress.
I checked the measurements and went for a straight size small with no adjustments. I decided not to toile it as I thought the fit looked quite forgiving.
This pattern was simple to put together and I made the whole garment in an evening. Because I was testing the pattern, I had to follow the instructions correctly which meant no short cuts. Normally I attached the open sleeve to the arm hole and then sew up the side seam and sleeve all in one so I don’t have to ease the sleeve in and make sure the seams match up. But this time I did it all correctly and I’m glad I did as it made me realise it wasn’t as hard as I remembered. I used ready made binding rather than cutting my own, but you can see the slightly darker colour through the fabric, so I will change it at some point.
Another technique I really enjoyed was shirring, I hadn’t done it in years, probably since university. Therefore, I’m glad instructions that came with the Dayo blouse were clear and easy to understand. It was a bit of a fiddle at first getting the tension correct and the waist shirring is a bit of a squeeze to get over my chest. Turns out I love shirring; I can’t wait to add it to all my future sewing projects!
Here are a few tips for shirring the Dayo Blouse has taught me
- Always test it out, every fabric is different so try a few lines of a scrap piece of your fabric first
- Hand wind the bobbin, so as not to overstretch it.
- Set the stitch width wide as the fabric gathers between the stiches, so it will create more gathers
- Pick the right fabric, the lighter the fabric the more effective the shirring
- Know your tensions, a tighter tension on the bobbin means tighter shirring.
- The more rows of shirring elastic you sew the tighter your gathers.
As you can see I decided to use the wrong side of the fabric on the sleeves as that side is extra sparkly and I love the contrast. When it was all finished, I actually love it so much. Even though the waist frill doesn’t suit me, the sleeves are incredible and for a blouse that I didn’t think I would like it was such a great surprise to be so in love with it!
The pattern has just been released and you can purchase it here
Thanks for reading
A great way to refresh your wardrobe is with fabric dying. I wanted to experiment with dying fabrics and clothing. A much more sustainable way of doing this is with natural dye. Luckily many of these can be made from products already found in your kitchen cupboards:
- Oranges – Onion skins
- Pinks – Avocado skins and stones
- Browns – Walnut shells, coffee
- Yellows – Turmeric
- Greens – Spinach, nettle
I started with turmeric as it’s a beautiful colour, and I already had a large pack in the cupboard!
As it was my first time experimenting, I decided to just dye some cotton cord. Natural fabrics such as cotton, silk or linen take dye on much better than man made fabrics.
Firstly, I heated a big pan of water and either vinegar or salt, this helps prepare the fabric for dying, its roughly 4 parts water to 1 part salt or vinegar, I used salt. Then submerge your fabric, and boil for approx. 1 hour.
In a separate pan mix up your turmeric dye, their are exact recipes online, but I just guessed and added half a pan of water and a few heaped tablespoons of turmeric and brought to the boil. After it has simmered for 10 mins or so it’s time to add your fabric. Submerge in the turmeric dye pan and simmer on a low heat, stirring every now and then.
The longer you leave your fabric in the dye, the more it’s going to take to the fabric and the stronger and more vibrant your colour will be. I left mine in for about an hour or so. After that I rinsed until the water ran clean and saved the remaining dye for another project. Because natural dyes can be used again and again, but lose pigement over time.
Then hang it out to dry on the washing line and let the sun do its magic. As you can see when it’s finished the colour is a lot paler, the main downside of natural dyes, but I love the soft yellow cord I have created and can’t wait to start using it.
I’d love to hear if you try out natural dying and how you get on, comment here or head over to my insta here more updates.