My sewing this summer has been pretty boring. I’ve made a lot of progress overall, but it can’t be measured in finished garments. Rather, I’ve been doing the back end sort of things. I’ve collected, cataloged and prepped patterns, improved my sewing space, bought a rotary cutter, cut myself on said rotary cutter, made some toiles and practiced some techniques. I keep reminding myself that those things really matter and they are making me a better sewist, despite having only eeked out a couple finished garments. There’s also a couple great failures that I’ll post about soon!
I finished both these lovelies around the end of July and I’ve gotten so much wear out of them. I wear the skirt pretty wear it once a week, which could be attributed to either how much I love it, or perhaps to how slim my summer wardrobe is. I moved to The Netherlands last summer when I was pregnant, so I have very few summer pieces that fit. My fall/winter wardrobe is even more sparse, but I’ve got plans to fix that!
This skirt is the bottom part of McCall’s 6891 Three Hour Shirtdress by Palmer/Pletsch and is made out 1.75 meters of viscose I picked up from the Lapjesmarkt in May.
The Pattern: Because I just used the skirt pieces, and basically ignored the rest of the pattern, I can’t really say much about it, except that per usual with McCall’s patterns, the measurements and sizing were way too big. After cutting it to my measurements, I basted the pieces together to fit and as I suspected I had to take it down 2 whole sizes. Sizing aside, I really want to make the whole dress at some point. I drafted the waistband and cut off the top piece of the button facing since it is one long piece meant for the shirtdress center front. The best part is that the skirt pockets are just the right size, because the only thing worse than no pockets is too-small pockets.
The Fabric: This was not a love at first sight fabric. In fact I bought it because I thought it was € 3 per meter and thought it would be fine for toile-ing. It was only after the fabric was cut did I realize it was actually € 8 per meter, which is pretty close to my spending cap – I’m still a beginner and can’t go crazy for projects that I’ll probably mess up at least a bit. All that to say, if I’d known that real price, I would have passed. Now I’m so glad I didn’t! I think it’s such a great pairing with the 3/4 skirt. The print is like a painting of embroidery and the background is a pale blue and white stripe. It’s so full of life! I feel like a fiesta every time I wear it!
Lessons Learned: This is only my second time sewing buttonholes and it was my second time working with viscose and I learned some lessons in both those areas. There’s a bit of a gap between my first and second button because the holes are not quite aligned. I even tried to sew in a secret facing button which helps a little but not enough. Working with the viscose was a bit tricky, despite the simplicity of the skirt. I was really proud of myself for thinking to use bias binding for the hem and side seams, however I didn’t think of this solution until after I’d assembled it, including the in seam pockets, so there’s an awkward bit that isn’t bound and is now fraying. I’ll probably wait til spring to fix it though. The other bit of learning came at the waistband. Even though I interfaced it, the fabric is really too light to carry the weight of a circle skirt. I think if it were a straight seam like a rectangle gather skirt, it’d be fine, but the weight of the bias cut skirt does pull on the waistband a bit. In the future, I’d likely underline the waistband with a something more structured like a cotton for support.
The Sew Over It Lottie Dress was my surprise make of the summer. I initially made it in a desperate attempt to stay cool. I was born in California so I’m no stranger to hot weather, but The Netherlands is just not built for it. Pretty much the only A/C to be found is in the freezer isle of the grocery store. So I whipped up a Lottie purely to escape the heat. I didn’t think I’d like it, mostly for the spaghetti straps, but I needed something to stay cool. To my surprise, I love this dress. It’s so relaxed but I still feel really classy (even with my bra straps on display). The pale blue stripe feels a bit nautical and makes me feel like I’m at the beach!
The Pattern: The pattern comes in the third issue of the new Lisa Comfort Magazine and costs € 7.99 for the PDF. From print to hem this dress took around 5 hours to sew, though a big chunk of the time was due to my fabric choice. If made in the recommended cotton, I’m sure it would be a much quicker make – probably around 2.5 hours and even less if you used purchased bias binding. The Lottie Dress calls for 1.9 meters of cotton for my size. Because my fabric was non-directional, I only used 1.3 meters. The pattern is three main pieces plus a guide for cutting the bias tape and tie belt. The only shaping comes at the top with sweet little bust gathers. I made a standard 14 but took out about 12 cm from the shoulder straps/front binding. The instructions are really clear about when and how to fit it so the straps fit nicely. I’ve read some complaints about the back gaping. Mine does a little bit, but not enough to bother me since the overall dress is lose fitting and my fabric was nice and drapey. The only thing I don’t like about the patterns that come in the digital Lisa Comfort magazines is that there are no line drawings. I find line drawings so helpful for determining fabric and checking progress throughout the sewing process. All of the regular Sew Over It patterns have them, just not the ones that come in the pdf Lisa Comfort magazines.
The Fabric: I bought this fabric from the local Wednesday market here in Schoonhoven for € 5 per meter. It’s a viscose, which was exactly what I wanted for the feel of this dress, as I was concerned that a cotton might look too boxy. As lovely and soft as it is, this viscose definitely presented challenges. I spent an hour and a half edge stitching the two center front pieces because the fabric kept slipping and creating a very obvious diagonal as well as annoying little tucks. I should also note that this was my first time finishing a garment with bias binding, and the slipperiness of the viscose made it all the more tricky and fiddly. Considering that it was my first time and the fact that I used a more difficult fabric, makes me a bit more forgiving about the wonkiness on the center front neckline.
Lessons Learned: I definitely need more practice with bias binding, probably on something more stable like a cotton before attempting a slippery fabric again. More importantly, I learned that I shouldn’t rule out patterns because I don’t think I should wear them. I was concerned about my arms and my bra straps and feeling comfortable with showing so much skin. And while I do want to be intentional about my makes, I’m really glad I took a risk on this pattern because I really love it! I’ve even sketched out a few modifications for another one, though it will likely not happen til next spring since it is suddenly cold here. I want to add a bias cut ruffle, maybe 10 centimeters wide, to the whole neckline/shoulder straps so it will float over my bust, the back edge and give me slightly more coverage on my shoulders. I’m so glad I gave this pattern a chance. I love it and I’m excited for next summer to make and wear more!
I used to pretend that I was too cool for matching sets. I’ve now accepted that I’m not. I love them even though we probably won’t actually wear them together. Baby clothes are so perfect for scraps and they come together nice and quickly! I used about 3/4 of a meter of my remaining blue stripe viscose to make the dress from Simplicity Baby Gear 8304.
The Pattern: The whole set is so cute! I’ve also already made a couple pairs of the leggings and I’m about to cut into another one of Simplicity’s Baby Gear patterns this month. As I do with any of my Big Four patterns, I went for a size smaller than it suggests. Rather than measurements, Big Four baby patterns are sized by weight. Ember is around 20 pounds (8.5 kg), but I chose to make a size Small which is for babies 13-18 pounds or 6-8 kilograms.
The back of the dress is a bit wonky because I rushed the bodice construction. I had assumed the bodice would be pretty straight and basted it closed and attached the skirt. Only when I went to add the buttonholes did I realize that I was misaligned because the bodice is really an A-line. So that was dumb and that’s fully my fault.
The Fabric: Slippery Viscose is just not ideal for baby clothes. When everything is so tiny, it’s extra hard to encourage the fabric in the right direction. I’m so glad I opted to use a sturdy cotton bias tape. It really helped to shape and stabilize the slippy viscose. But it’s super soft and Ember loves it. I ended up loving the look of the bias tape so much that I added the waistband and the hem too!
Lessons Learned: I was going to say that I won’t make baby clothes out of viscose again, but I actually have another baby top in a lovely floral viscose already lined up! Though I can say, I don’t want to bias bind anymore teeny tiny armholes. Bias binding is already fiddly, but it’s so much worse when the space is so small, so in the future I’ll either line it if it’s sleeveless or add sleeves.
Thanks so much for reading! I know this was a long one. In the future, I’m really hoping that my makes posts will be in vlog form so stay tuned!