The McGyver shirt dress: Simplicity Lisette Traveler

Traveler Front

One of my favourite Instagram accounts is that of the American designer behind ‘Poppy von Frohlich‘, who makes beautiful woolen womenswear, ranging from flannel shirts to winter coats. Her pictures really inspired me to finally try my hand at plaid matching, and what better project to start on than a plaid shirt dress?

I’ve been looking out for the perfect shirt dress pattern for some time now – a  design that could be made up into a cosy flannel dress for cooler weather or with more luxurious fabric for a smarter version (like this lovely velvet YSL dress).

Judging from the line drawings on the Simplicity (2246) Lisette Traveler pattern, it looked like it would fit the bill perfectly. It also helps that the pattern has gotten great reviews across a wide range of sewing blogs so there’s a wonderful selection of sewn-up versions to preview online.

Traveler Back Lady Stitcher

Sorry for the wrinkled back view! The only sunny window for taking photos was a few hours after I had put the dress on!

I sourced the brushed cotton from a UK seller on eBay and used it to make the Traveler dress in Version A. This version is supposed to have two lower pockets as well, but I left them off and cut the upper pockets and the plackets on the bias to shake up the plaid pattern. Matching that plaid takes a lot of effort! Hats off to all those people who’ve made several plaid Archers! Despite all my efforts, I didn’t quite match it across the side seams, but I’m happy with how well the front panels, plackets and pockets worked out. I made matching buttons out of one of those ‘self-cover’ button sets.

I have quite narrow shoulders and I think this falls just a little too wide for my shape. It would certainly fit better if I buttoned it right up to the top, but I’m not really comfortable wearing this style like that so I’ll just get on with it being the way it is! I’ll definitely measure the shoulders on the pattern pieces before trying version C, which is the next one I’d like to make from this pattern.

So, the McGyver connection. Well, when I was a child, that show was basically our ‘family viewing’ time. I hadn’t seen it since I was really young and didn’t really remember much about, so when I came across the first episode of it by accident recently, I had to check it out! It turns out that while I didn’t retain any of the storylines or general information about the McGyver character, his wardrobe has had an unconscious influence on me after all these years:

His Shirt

Nice plaid matching, McG.

 

Me-Made-May ’14: The halfway point

I, Sue (ladystitcher.wordpress.com), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I will endeavour to wear at least one item made by me each day for the duration of May 2014.

Here we are – it’s the middle of May and we’re already halfway through this year’s Me-Made-May project. I’ve really been enjoying taking part so far and have found it quite challenging to not just keep wearing my five favourite things over and over.

I’ve been sharing daily updates of my pledge progress on Instagram and have pulled those photos together for my first MMM round-up post.

First 5

Day 1: Moonrise Kingdom dress, seed stitch scarf | D2: Easter Mortmain and RTW jacket for a wedding | D3: Grey Coco | D4: Vintage Pledge shirt dress, RTW cardigan | D5: Colette Mabel skirt and Sorbetto top (plus charity race medal – it was a family day out!)

The most notable absences in my handmade wardrobe are tops, trousers and cardigans/sweaters. I don’t plan on chucking out my RTW wardrobe any time soon, so there’s no urgency in making cardigans but I would really like a wider variety of tops that aren’t T-shirts. I also really want to make trousers, too! I have two patterns to hand but haven’t found the right fabric yet.

Second 5

Day 6: Grey and gold Coco, seed scarf | D7: Remnant fabric skirt (not blogged), RTW shirt and vest | D8: Beignet skirt, Simplicity 1693 top, RTW top | D9: Grey Coco, basketweave scarf (not blogged) | D10: Grey and gold Coco, RTW sweater, seed scarf

Since the start of May, I’ve realised just how often I typically reach for jeans, a T-shirt and a sweater in the morning. Looking back over these photos, I’m really surprised to see that I only worse jeans once in the first half of the month. I’ve also realised just how much I was wearing my grey and colour-blocked Coco dresses pre-May; I’ve consciously been limiting their rotation for MMM’14 but have already worn each a couple of times.

My pledge focused on better incorporating my handmade clothing into what I was wearing rather than trying not to repeat any outfits. That said, I’ve been happily surprised at how many outfit combinations I’ve been able to put together from the garments I’ve made.

Third 5

Day 11: Coco #5 | D12: Gingham Japanaese pattern dress (not blogged), RTW cardigan | D13: Sleeveless Mathilde (not blogged), RTW jeans | D14: Sporty Coco, Beignet skirt | D15: Nettie top (not blogged), RTW skirt

The pace of my sewing has slowed down since the start of May. For the first ten days, I was visiting with family in different parts of Ireland and since I’ve come home, I’ve been focusing on finishing my Owls sweater. I fell a bit behind Kat and Sabrina’s knitalong during the sewing frenzy for Sew Dolly Clackett and Sew For Victory and I had a bit of a nightmare with the magic loop method. I’m getting back on track now that I’ve sourced the right sized double pointed needles and am aiming to finish the sweater before the end of MMM.

Of course, having some me-made trousers to put with it would be nice too… 🙂

Sew For Victory Outfit: Skirt and Blouse from Simplicity 3688

SFV Front

One of the first blogs I was drawn to when I started reading about sewing online was the brilliant Lucky Lucille. I loved the site’s focus on vintage clothing, the sneak peeks inside the finished garments, and seeing Rochelle’s sewing skills. I know it sounds obvious that if you can sew, it logically follows that you can sew whatever clothing you want, but Rochelle’s blog really helped me to realise the impact personal sewing can have on your style and the breadth of options it opens to you.

When I signed up to take part in Sew For Victory 2.0, I decided that two things would guide my project: 1. to actually sew an outfit for the challenge – something I’ve never done before; 2. to sew something for summer, as most of the clothes I’ve sewn so far have been suited to cooler weather.

SVF Fabric

I don’t have any authentic 1940s patterns, but I picked up Simplicity 3688 – a 40s reproduction – in a recent Simplicity sale and bought some lovely Irish linen for the skirt and a sweet flower-pattern Liberty lawn for the shirt. (I think I’m more drawn to patterned fabric after Sew Dolly Clackett!)

I left out the sleeve headings and the front bodice pleats on the shirt because, while I don’t want to completely eliminate the 40s design elements, I find looser clothing more comfortable and wasn’t sure how often I’d wear a blouse with strong shoulders.

The skirt is a snug fit though, because I got a bit overzealous with my French seams. Going overboard by a tiny fraction when making French seams isn’t much of an issue if you have just two side seams to work on, but the cumulative effect across several panels is another story! That said, I think this is the best-finished garment I’ve ever sewn and I’m really pleased with the result.

Here's a weird side-selfie showing the lapped zipper more closely

Here’s a weird side-selfie showing the lapped zipper more closely.

Both items were really easy to sew – the directions are quite clear and the design elements are simple enough that it doesn’t take too long to put it all together.

 All of the Sew For Victory projects are being compiled through the group Flickr page – take a look through all the lovely creations!

SFV Back

Moonrise Kingdom dress: Channeling Suzy Bishop with Simplicity 1913

DSC_2069

(Note: Additional photo added 21 April 2014)

To mark the opening of Wes Anderson’s new film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, Dublin’s art house cinema The Light House held a special Anderson-movie-themed costume party on Friday night. I’ve never sewn a costume from scratch before and thought it might be fun (and challenging!) to try it.

After a quick Google Image search of Anderson’s film characters, I thought Suzy Bishop’s yellow dress from Moonrise Kingdom could be a pretty close match for one of my patterns, Simplicity 1913. I’ve made it up once before, but had issues with the upper back being a bit loose (which in retrospect I’ve put down to the semi-disaster that was my invisible zip insertion!).

Moonrise Kingdom DIY

So far as I could tell from hazy screenshots, Suzy’s yellow dress has princess seams in the bodice and an A-line skirt with a really short hemline. The dress also has a white collar and white cuffs. I was only able to find this strong buttercup shade of yellow in a heavy-ish cotton (it’s not very soft to touch and looks susceptible to piling). I thought I’d be more likely to wear it again if I made the cuffs and collar as separates – and kept the hemline at a more comfortable length! I lined the bodice with some light grey anti-static lining I had already, but skipped lining the skirt to save time.

Now, I really can’t remember why on earth I bought a collar pattern, Simplicity 1727A, when they’re pretty easy to draft by yourself. I think it was back when I was planning to learn dressmaking but hadn’t started, and was looking out for discounted simple patterns that could be made up myriad ways and worn in lots of different outfits. I hadn’t tried it before, but being tight on time I thought this would be a good opportunity to give it a go! I also adapted this pattern piece to make the cuffs.

I definitely got a much better fit with Simplicity 1913 here than the first time out – I still haven’t mastered invisible zippers but I had a better idea of what I was at this time around. Now that I’ve actually used the collar pattern, I can think of dozens of really cool variations using sequined fabric, animal prints, embroidery, beading…so many options!

Moonrise Kingdom dress

Moonrise Kingdom cuff

Moonrise Kingdom collar

The collar is attached to a neckband which closes at the centre front with a button. I left it untied and tucked in under the dress (it fits tighter when I’m inside it!) to look more like Suzy’s collar.

Skills learned: Making neck bands and pointed collars.

Recommend patterns?: I think you could probably draft a variety of lovely collar shapes by yourself, but I have to say that I found Simplicity 1727A really easy to work with and will use it again.

Some of the directions on Simplicity 1913 were a tad confusing (especially the parts about the bodice lining – I ended up just doing my own thing to line and finish the bodice), but I think this is a really nice dress design. Interestingly – and usefully – the pattern includes a good array of suggestions and pattern pieces for customising the dress. It always feels like much better value when a dress pattern comes with alternative skirt or sleeve options!

Frankenskirt ‘n’ Sorbetto: Old patterns and modern pdfs

Frankenskirt Exhibit A

Shortly before Christmas, I realised just how limited my ‘work wardrobe’ has become of late. Most of the jobs I’ve worked over the past five years have not required anything other than smart casual clothing. So, in the spirit of smartening up the casual a bit, I decided to make a grey skirt that could be easily matched with the tops, shirts and cardigans I already own.

The main body of this just-below-the-kneee skirt comes from Simplicity 5914, one of my mother’s patterns (I’m not sure she ever made it herself, mind). The copyright is marked 2002. The waistband comes from one of the patterns I ferreted out of my grandmother’s collection, Style 4914 from the early 70s. I find wide waistbands so much more comfortable to wear than the narrow kind, especially when it comes to eating and sitting down – crucial factors in my pattern selection process!

Vintage Skirts

The skirt design is pretty straightforward: six panels sewn together, stitched to a waistband at the top and hemmed at the bottom. I put a lapped zip in the back for a bit of variety among my skirts, though I’ve just noticed that the photo below makes it look like there’s a gap at the back. Not the case: I’ve just somehow neglected to properly zip up the zipper *cringe*. (So much for my only New Year’s Resolution of taking better photos…)

The fabric is grey suiting from MyFabrics.co.uk which was reduced to clear. To be honest, I’m not sure which side of it is the ‘right’ side: one side is a darker grey and smooth to touch, the other is a lighter colour and feels like a thin brushed cotton. I can’t imagine a suit made out of the brushed side, but I think I might have a go at making the Colette Truffle dress (minus the front flappy part) with it.

And speaking of Colette Patterns, the top in these photos was made with their free pdf download, ‘Sorbetto’. It’s a really quick pattern to use, but I did decide to make matching bias binding which always takes a bit of time. The fabric is some kind of mysterious poly-something-blend from Murphy Sheehy in Dublin and was really nice to sew – it wasn’t slippy and didn’t fray to nothingness along the edges. One change I will make for future Sorbettos is the length – it barely comes to my waist once hemmed (and even then, with a small hem) which is fine for tucking in to skirts but a tad too short for me to wear un-tucked.

Skills learned: Working with a busy-print fabric for the Sorbetto; incorporating different design elements of different patterns for the skirt.

Recommend pattern(s)?: Yep, if it’s still out there, the Simplicity 5914 is a great basic skirt pattern which could be easily adjusted for different lengths or materials. I definitely recommend Sorbetto as a good basic top pattern. If you haven’t given pleats a go yet, this front panel is a great intro to them, or you could just edit the pattern to leave it out for a nice and simple sleeveless top. (You could probably also adapt the pattern fairly easily to make more pleats, come to think of it.)

A Pattern Pledge Note:

Yesterday, Marie at A Stitching Odyssey outlined her plan to focus on working with the vintage patterns already among her (amazing) collection and I’ve decided to join in, pledging to make at least three pieces from my (much smaller) assortment. For a while now I’ve been planning and re-planning projects involving these family patterns, but for some reason I feel more daunted by those than the vintage ones I picked up elsewhere. (Maybe I don’t want to ‘waste’ them…?) I’m visiting friends over the next week, but when I get back I’m going to start working on actual, tangible projects to meet my three-pattern pledge. Here goes!

Take three: a hat-trick from Simplicity 1693

(Inadvertent French flag reproduction here...)

(Inadvertent French flag reproduction here…)

This is such an easy pattern to make that I’ve made it over the past few months not once, not twice, but three times.

I find Simplicity 1693 great to work with because firstly, there are no closure issues like zips or buttons, and, secondly, I like the smooth finish you get with bias binding along the edges.

I’ve made this pattern in three different fabrics: red wool-blend crepe, blue light shirting, and cream mystery fabric (it feels like a heavy crepe) from my favourite remnant bin in town. I had planned to make the short-sleeve shirt option for the cream crepe, but when I pinned the sleeves on, the whole thing looked really dated so I left them off.

The blue one is pattern option ‘F’ and the other two are ‘D’ minus the sleeves.

The hem of the blue top (version 'F' of the pattern) looks lopsided in this photo, but it actually worked out fine in real life!

The hem of the blue top looks really lopsided in this photo, but it actually worked out fine in real life (honestly!)

I used ready-made binding for all three necklines, but decided to make my own for the armholes of the blue shirting version (the white trim on neckline and armholes looked very bib-like when I pinned it together). Because of the cut of fabric I was working from, I only had very small strips of shirting to sew together to make the bias tape (meaning that it took a really, really long time and I’m not too enthusiastic about doing it again any time soon!).

Skills learned: Making bias tape from scratch.

Recommend pattern?: Definitely, especially for beginners. It’s also a handy one for quickly making some tops. I really like when a pattern includes several different options – it always feels like better value!

Simplicity 1693