A Dress of Two Summers

Hi!

As I type this, it is a rather gloomy, windy and cold day outside with occasional rain. We had an abnormally hot June and July and then August has been somewhat of a disappointment. Therefore I look at these photos with a bittersweet feeling as it seems that another summer has come to its end. They also bring back memories of our fun little family vacation to Narva-Jõesuu and Narva in July.

This dress has somewhat of a funny history. First of all, I call it the Dress of Two Summers because it was as good as finished already last summer. But as you know, I was pregnant until the middle of July and then had the post-partum/breast-feeding body that I wasn´t even sure would ever allow me to wear the dress and I didn´t want to hem it until I knew if and how many alterations it needed. This summer, I finally hemmed it and only decided to add a snap to the front of the dress for extra security although I am actually happy how it fits even without the snap. Another great pattern from Style Arc, of course! It is the Annabelle dress sans the ruffles:

Secondly, the fabric of the dress. I just adore it. I am not sure I have used this word on this blog before. I love the print, the color combo, the slightly crinkled look of it, the feel of it, just everything. And it is also the fabric for the cover sample of McCalls 8104:

I first saw the fabric on this pattern cover when it was released and then shortly afterwards saw it at Abakhan store in Tallinn. Initially I was sure I would make the McCalls dress, but I didn´t buy enough and therefore had to change my plans. It would have been fun though to copy the look, wouldn´t it? And just recently I saw it on sale and grabbed myself another 2 m, again not enough for the McCalls, but I am thinking a flowy wrap skirt one day..?

Anyway, I was a bit meh at first (that means before hemming it) but once finished it has turned to one of the most popular dresses for this ending summer. Just makes me feel nice!

I also think that this must be my first real wrap dress and since it seems to have become quite a habit, I am once again planning to make more with this pattern. Some of the details below:

I think this dress is equally appropriate for holiday as well as workplace, at least for my job. Basically from the office to the beach dress 😀

Talking about beaches, I really recommend Narva-Jõesuu. It used to be the summer resort for many Russian aristocrats before WWII and even now there must be many Russians spending their summers there deciding by the look, style and size of the summer homes. But at the same time there is another layer of history, the Soviet era that lurks around some abandoned resort buildings from that time, mixed with new or restorated old ones that are quite fancy. All in all, an interesting combo of old and new, wealthy and poor, but nevertheless the whole place has a wonderful relaxed atmosphere and the beach is actually breathtaking. A really long (it must be a few kilometers) stretch of sand, the sun dropping to the sea in the evening, cooling water and most importantly not crowded and not too “developed” meaning there is only one beach bar on the actual sand.

I am not such a fan of Narva, though. It is the border town with Russia and it is definitely worth visiting and it has developed a lot over the recent years, but unfortunately as it was basically bombed to the ground during the WWII there is not much left of the historical city center and it feels kind of center-less if there is such a thing.

I have a couple of more projects from summer that I have been wanting to post about, I am hoping to get there before it is already weird! And I have also participated in some workshops that I really want to share about more, but that is also a story for another time!

Until soon!

Vogue 8829 revisited

Hi!

You may remember my recent black embroidered cotton dress and how happy I was with the pattern. In fact, I immediately decided that I will repeat the pattern so soon that I didn´t even put it away from my sewing table. I didn´t have a certain fabric in mind but it came to me by itself if I can say so.

We were on a day trip to Pärnu and since I had been looking for a specific color and size of buttons for a while, I jumped into the local fabric shop to try my luck. And lucky I got! In addition to the buttons I had been looking for, I just took a glimpse at some of the fabrics sold by weight and you know the feeling when your heart skips a beat…. I have always had a soft spot for stripes, but if they come combined with floral, I am pretty much sold! Also, thankfully there was enough fabric because although lengthwise the piece was 3 meters long, the width was only 1,1 m. The shop assistant told me that the fabric is for crafts, but being 100% cotton, it is ideal for a summer dress as well.

If I wasn´t so excited about the result, I probably even would not write a second post on the same pattern (Vogue 8829), but for the second time, it really is a great pattern to work with! This time it went together even faster because I didn´t need to add lining to the skirt piece, the cotton fabric is dense enough.

For the black details, I used the leftovers of the black “sister” dress and thus used up all of the black poplin I was gifted by Black Carrot Fabrics. Since I usually tend to have big scraps, it really feels nice when I can use up all of my material.

I had to wait a few days for the suitable belt to arrive and I ordered two slightly different ones just to make sure one would fit and thankfully one of them really is quite similar in width to the front placket. It really is one of the best feelings about sewing when your vision becomes reality!

On the inside I used a piece of white cotton batiste for the yoke because I was afraid that the contrasting stripes would show through on the outside. Also, as with the first version of the dress, I stitched in the ditch on the front placket as opposed to slipstitching on the inside by hand.

I think I also got lucky that the front placket is about the same width as the stripes on the fabric, looks so much better like this.

Whoever has taken photos in a more or less public place with a tripod and a remote, probably knows that it is not always a very comfortable feeling when people stare at you. Or maybe it is just me? But on the other hand taking all of the photos at home would also be very boring, so as long as there is good daylight, I prefer to take my pics outside, even if it means stepping out of my comfort zone. This time, as well as the last time (for the maxi dress post), I had a little helper and it is unbelievable how much courage a child who doesn ´t question your actions can provide! It has been great taking photos with my daughter (despite the occasional photobombing) and I have enjoyed the playground time after the shoot so much!

Until soon!

Black Carrot x Peppermint

Hi!

The kind people at Black Carrot offered me to continue with the sponsored projects and here is the second “fruit” of this collab. I picked an interesting fabric that I had only touched but never used before – viscose ritchel. I don´t know the exact composition but it is nicely cool, flowy and has a good weight to it, perfect for a summery maxi dress. Black Carrot has a wide range of colors if you want to check out. Honestly, I hesitated quite a while before picking this muted greyish blue version.

If you imagine the title as a bit of a crazy cocktail (carrot mixed with peppermint??) then yes, the dress actually is a bit crazy as is the maker! To explain this, just look at the photos below, straight to the details:

Do you realize that I have attached the back piece wrong side out? I did realize it, but only after having taken the dress to the beach to play with my daughter already. As I was taking some close up photos for this post, I finally realized the mistake and you know what? I can live with it! I am NOT going to unpick the whole construction of the elastic, the facing (including clipped seam allowances), the straps etc just to please my inner perfectionist. Not this time, devil!

But why Peppermint? But because if you haven´t discovered peppermintmag.com yet then you are missing out. They have several patterns to try out for free and since I am normally not into maxi dresses (I think it is the second I´ve made), I thought if I have a gifted fabric and a free pattern, why not try. But you know that there are no free lunches, right? So although it was supposed to be a quick project, almost a kind of “side” project, I ended up unpicking the long center front french seam at least 5 if not 6 times.

Notice that on the technical drawing there is a mistake – the center front seam is not shown!

The fabric is a bit slippery, but not too much and it is generally nice to sew with, but to topstitch the seam was almost impossible. In fact, I turned it inside out in the end, because it was easier to topstitch it from the wrong side. But the pattern itself is actually really great, I love that the french seams throughout and facings with seam allowance turned under rather than just overlocked, leave such a neat and clean finish on the inside that the dress is almost wearable both ways. And in my case, half of it is the wrong side out already! Which also shows another feature of the fabric – both sides look the same so it would be really useful for some patterns where the wrong side of the fabric is visible.

This is the inside:

Some close ups:

I am in the middle of a long holiday and I think this dress carries the holiday vibe perfectly – careless, eat-all-you-can and even ticks the box for the so on-trend square neck line!

While writing this, I am getting all sorts of ideas for a second one and who knows… The last time I said so, I did so, you will see very soon 😉

Black Carrot Black Dress

Hi!

I didn´t even realize that I didn´t post anything in June! Wow! I blame the extraordinarily warm summer and I have always enjoyed sewing itself more than writing about it so I guess I made my choices last month. If you follow me on Instagram, however, you know that there are a bunch of things I have made that have not ended up here, yet.

But today I have a few good reasons to post and number one is that another Estonia-based fabric shop approached me with an offer to cooperate and I gladly accepted. The shop is Black Carrot and they offer a decent choice of dressmaking and home decor fabrics. In fact I regularly shop there anyway so it wasn´t difficult to choose a fabric for the sponsored project. And if you like my dress, they still have both of the fabrics available so why not make a similar one!

I picked their wonderful embroidered cotton and plain poplin, both in a deep black shade to make a work-appropriate summer dress, using an old-timer of a pattern in my stash – Vogue 8829.

I combined views D and C, the armhole bands of the latter were actually the key reason for liking the pattern as well as the opportunity to use a contrast color/fabric for this and other details. And before I say anything else, this pattern will be repeated soon. It is just so good. And this is the second good reason for posting today – I have made myself a wardrobe staple that I just hope will not fade in sun and wash too soon.

It has been a while since using a Big4 pattern because of my love affair with Style Arc and I had to keep reminding myself that the seam allowances are 1,5 cm and not 1, but other than that, a really enjoyable pattern.

I made a few modifications too. The most noticeable is that I added a lining to the skirt because the embroidery is see through enough to make me (and possibly others around me) uncomfortable if left unlined. I used a nice drapey and cool against the skin (viscose mix?) fabric that I purchased a long time ago with plans for a dress, but I have only used bits of it for pocket linings and now for the dress lining as well. It is quite precisely the colour of my skin so very subtle under the embroidered cotton and I think it gives the skirt some movement as opposed to having used a poplin lining, which was my first idea. But thankfully I checked with my sewing buddies and within a minute we made a common decision that the lining has to be silky, beige (not black) and I should use different pleats than the main fabric. So the lining has knife pleats where the skirt has inverted pleats. As for the color, I have a feeling that if I would have found a similar dress in a store, it would have been lined with black, but that would of course not show the beauty of the main fabric.

For the other modifications, I used the famous burrito-method for the yoke treatment which for some reason has not made its way into the Big4 pattern instructions as far as I know. I also skipped slipstitching the front bands and stitched in the ditch instead. It is not my favorite thing to do at all, but this time it went well enough.

I was not sure about the buttons at first and considered using black ones, but I think eventually the six golden ones that I had bought some time ago just because they were so “me” and not for some specific project (AND they were the last 6 at that shop!), fit perfectly. Otherwise I think there would be a danger of looking too serious. I did have some hesitation about a black summer dress, but adding the belt and the golden buttons and light colored shoes change the overall impression, isn´t it?

I love the outcome because I feel really comfortable, not too casual but not overdressed either and I also like thet the armhole bands offer cover for the shoulders without being sleeves!

I have another idea for this pattern – to use a more contrasting main fabric with black details again for a more striking look. Let´s see when I will get there because as you know, our hands unfortunately do not move as fast as our inspiration and thoughts!

Anyway, I am super thankful to Black Carrot to give me the opportunity to sew with these beautiful fabrics!

Until soon!

Military Valentine

Hi!

I finished this dress on Valentine´s Day and wore it to dinner with my husband the same night. Surely could have worn something more feminine and romantic, but there is nothing like wearing a brand new dress!

I am amazed by people who manage to take selfies of nearly everything they do because in my case, getting a photo that I would be satisfied enough with to publish it, takes so many tries that I usually simply do not have that much of spare time. So, as usually, no photos of that night, but the weather was super sunny over the weekend so we thought we could take the photos of the dress outside…. It really was a bright day but too cold and windy to spend more than a few minutes without the coat. So we just snapped a few and they will have to do.

I think it shows in every photo, how cold I was! But I love the combination of the pink of my coat and the burgundy of my dress.

The pattern I used is out of print McCall´s 7539 view B, and I chose it precisely for the collar an chest pockets, because this is what I envisioned when I bought the fabric (for Estonian readers, it is from Kangastuudio!).

The only changes I made were to add metallic snap buttons to the pocket flaps and topstitch the center front seam. I also sewed the sleeve hems just like the dress hem, a visible line of stitches. In addition, the sleeves were a bit too long for my taste, i find it annoying when they reach the base of my thumbs, so I shortened them by a few cm.

The pattern is simple, but due to the stretch of the fabric, the pockets really gave me a hard time and they are not exactly identical, but I gave my best. After the completion of the pockets, everything else went really smoothly and the pattern is a good one in terms of fit as well.

The photos don´t show it well, but the fabric has a nice knit surface while the wrong side is smooth. I think the texture and the color are perfect for such a winter dress.

Until soon!

Tie (Up Loose Ends)

It is a bit as if 2018 is still going on here 😀 Still things to finish up from last year. If you remember this…

… then maybe you also remember I had cut out a tie for my husband to wear on Christmas Day.

And I did finish it minutes before we sat down for dinner, actually the rest of the family even had to wait a bit. Honestly, I thought it is going to be a quickie, but either I misunderstood something or the pattern really is as poor as I think it is.

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The pattern is Burdastyle 12/2013, model 148. I downloaded mine from burdastyle.com. It seems to me that the part on how to attach and work on the insert to shape the tie are problematic, as it was nearly impossible to hide the insert behind the lining piece on the wider end. Also, if I would ever make it again, I would cut the insert much narrower, not just without the seam allowance in order to be able to make it look acceptable.

Since I didn´t have a wool insert (what is it anyway?) I used a piece of windstopper material that I had left over from a coat (hint!), which worked fine.

For the lining I used the same fabric as for the dresses. You can see how much I hurried from the sloppy hand stitches on the narrow end…

Conclusion? Probably the only tie I will ever make, unless there would be some event so special that I´d be willing to spend another full day on making a matching one with my dress again.

But my husband loved it and the family photos are really fun, unfortunately none with a very good view of the tie, but you get the idea I believe 😀

Me and Mini Me

Hi!

You knew this was going to happen, right? 😀

Well, I couldn´t resist! These are the dresses I made for Liisa-Mai´s first Christmas, we wore them already for the childrens Christmas party at my workplace, but definitely will wear them for the Christmas dinner with family as well. I actually have cut out a tie for my husband in the same fabric, we´ll see how this turns out. And then this might be the best use of fabric I have ever managed, although I bought the piece without any clear ideas about 2 years ago. But for the readers in Estonia – I noticed it was still on sale in Kangadzungel!

The pattern for my dress is Burdastyle 9/2013, model 108 (size 38) and for Liisa-Mai, 07/2012, model 145, size 74 – she is 7,5 months old already!

I love that I managed to find two patterns that have identical sleeves 🙂 Liisa-Mai´s dress is a bit simplified, because I realized that if I want to make a tie as well, there will not be enough fabric left after this skirt piece with its pleats and gathers. So I omitted the pleats, which I think would have added unnecessary bulk anyway plus the plaid fabric probably would have hidden them, too. So Liisa-Mai´s dress is just gathered, I used as much fabric as I had which was about 10 cm less than it would have been with the pleats.

I added the piping detail for her dress sleeves and if I had had more time, probably would have done the same for the collar. I also contemplated using the blue fabric for the bodice and then add the collar and fabric-covered buttons in plaid. It would have been really cute, but the blue fabric is 100% synthetic and the plaid felt more skin-friendly. The blue pieces are remnants from my Estonia 100 dress.

For her buttons, I used a special set that I purchased some years ago from Singapore. It is a great way to add some personality to a garment and I think it is especially cute for a baby! There are three hidden press studs down the front of her dress as well.

As for my dress, I shortened it about 15 cm and as you can see, added piping to the neckline, sleeve edges and the curved darts. The dress is fully lined with one of the most luxurious-feeling lining fabrics I have sewn with, a stretch and silky lining by Versace. I used the same fabric for her sleeves as well. It was such fun to see the tiny sleeves sewn up exactly as the big ones!

I am quite satisfied with the plaid match and placement and especially about the fact that although I managed to finish my own dress at a relaxed pace, the final decision to try to make hers for the party was made the previous evening…. I literally attached the last press stud like half an hour before leaving for the party!

I have actually dedicated a lot of time on sewing these past months and there is a big project waiting for its reveal, but it needs final touches and then there is the annual Christmas party for which I am also making a few things. So more to come, just a little patience!

Happy upcoming holidays!

The Mixed Media -Florals and Stripes Dress

Hi!

As I mentioned in a recent post, I realized how few of my clothes are breastfeeding friendly, so now I am on a mission of making a few items that would fill the gap. Yes, of course, it is possible to manage with regular clothes as well, but I definitely feel more relaxed when I know that I can feed my baby discreetly basically anywhere should there be a need when our daily plans change, for example.

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Ironically enough, the past week has been extremely hot for Estonia and I cannot take little Liisa-Mai out during the day anyway. This is also the reason why these photos are taken in the setting sun with its less than ideal light conditions – this has been the only time to enjoy the outside without having to fear for a heatstroke.

So I made this dress with a few modifications once again as the pattern is one I have used before, Burda 10/2017 model 115.

The most visible modification is the length of the zipper of course. I also debated for a long time whether I should do an exposed zipper or not. This beautiful lace zipper (bought from Helsinki a few years back) was the only suitable one in my stash at that moment and I eventually decided I will not hide it. Neither did I have the patience to go next day and buy a regular one 😀

I also lengthened the dress by approximately 10 cm which seemed to be a good idea as it seemed really short. However the ruffle is much longer than I expected and I realized it only after I had sewn everything together. Well, I wasn´t exactly excited about ripping it off and taking the extra length out and also shortening of the ruffle didn´t seem to help much. So while I was staring angrily at my reflection in the mirror, my husband quietly suggested a belt and… it solved the issue although the end result is not exactly what I had in mind.

And once again I omitted the sleeve ruffles even though I had prepared them already! It just seemed that there would be too much going on with the floral, stripes, lace zipper, belt and bottom ruffle!

The fabric is one of the cheapest I have ever used at EUR 7,5/m and the tag stated it is cotton. I am not so sure anymore, it could be some kind of cotton mix since the fabric hardly wrinkles, it came out of the washing machine nearly dry and it seems ironing can be skipped. It still feels very comfortable  to wear, though, even in this heat we are experiencing.

And last, but not least, I cant not mention that I had a fantastic experience on July 16th as I attended my first (!) really big open-air concert – the Guns n´Roses Not In This Lifetime tour! As I got home with the official T-shirt, I realized that I now have one more top to go with my red skirt, should I be in the mood OR should it ever happen that I get a chance to see them again! Who would have thought 😀

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Estonia 100 Dress

Hi!

My home country Estonia celebrated its 100th anniversary on February 24th and if anything deserves a new dress, then it is this proud celebration day!

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I have been sewing a few things this year already but I must admit my sewing mojo is a bit down as I am quite tired in the evenings and rather prefer to spend my energy on walking and keeping fit rather than making efforts with sewing. I have nearly completed a patchwork quilt blanket (my first after the obligatory one in high school!) in preparation for the arrival of our baby and started a dress, but my sewing machine did not love the fabric so I just had another unfinished object added to the deepest corner of my drawer.

Also, I am not too excited about sewing floaty garments which is the only style I can wear right now and therefore the only thing that really pushed me to make something was this big anniversary and the fact that we were invited by friends to a celebration party for which I REALLY did not have anything to wear 🙂

The pattern is from Patrones 332, model 18.

The sizes in Patrones are different from Burda or the American brands, so when I normally cut size 38 from Burda, I am 42 for Patrones. This time I decided to go up one size and cut 44, although it was already obvious that the pattern is generous enough.

It is quite a straightforward model and a quick make which is exactly what I needed right now. In order to add some spark, I used a sequined fabric for the front yoke. It is the first time I used sequined fabric and because the sequines are small, it didn´t create any problems and I could just sew through them. However, the whole house was full of sparkle as cutting and trimming released hundreds of sequins or pieces of them.

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The most important aspect of this dress for me was that I wanted to feel comfortable, yet appropriate for the occasion. I managed both and there is even hope I can wear it in the future once I am in my normal parameters again!

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Some close ups as well:

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I will work for another three weeks and then stay home to prepare for the upcoming life changing moment. I can´t promise I will make anything during that time because I cannot make anything I really like right now, but at the same time completing a new garment is so satisfying that I may decide to whip up something anyway.

The Blue Gown

Hi!

Would you believe that with all these years of sewing, I never made a maxi dress? This one is my first!

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I have a few ready-to-wear ones for summer, but generally I prefer to enjoy the warm weather in short and light clothes. There is only one maxi dress that I have worn to pieces and it is made of very breathable and lightweight cotton batiste.

However, as the annual Christmas party at my workplace was approaching fast, I needed something that would tick several boxes – appropriate for the environment since this years party was held at an old art nouveau style mansion (it is worth checking it out: Ammende villa), easy and quick to make since I was running out of time, fit me in the current circumstances and preferrably be wearable in the future. I managed to tick all those, plus as a bonus, I could use up some of the fabric from my overflowing stash! Win-win!

So the lucky winner pattern was Vogue 9104:

I am very happy I took the time to look up some blog posts on this pattern because a few of them mentioned the problem with the armholes being too low-cut. I guess it has to do with the weight of the fabric as well, because you need 4.1 meters of it for size 10 and the armholes can easily be dragged lower by the weight of the dress! The pattern also recommends lightweight jersey, but with this amount of fabric, jersey would definitely stretch even more, causing the armholes reaching too low. So just to avoid the trouble, I raised the armholes of my dress by about 2,5 cm and I am thankful I did! Instead of using the facings provided with the pattern, I used bias tape to finish them, another tip from one of the blogs I read!

It took me a while to decide what to do with the lower contrast part of the dress. I had just enough fabric in my stash for the upper part of the dress and I had it already cut out, so the task was to find something suitable for the contrast. It was really not easy. I considered sequins, but eventually they were not in the right shade; I was also thinking about using silvery lurex, but I was afraid the end result would be something in the lines of Ded Moroz, the slavic equivalent of Santa Claus:

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Photo source: http://www.artlebedev.com/mandership/173/

In the end I bought some glittery stretch lace and backed it up with matching lining fabric for the lower pieces:

This meant I had to cut the lower details out not four, but eight times and additional seams to join them. Not hard to do, but so time consuming, especially because the lining fabric is slippery and the pieces are quite big. It took a lot of pinning, basting, pressing and sewing. The seams are really long as well! And yes, the glitter was all over the place!

As you can see, the photos are taken at my parents place and my shoes don´t really match the dress, I just borrowed them from my mom for the photos. We actually tried taking photos at the villa since we stayed the night there but initially the cameras battery was dead and the next moment we had time to take the pics was at 3 AM, my husband almost asleep and my own face sleepy as well. The light conditions were not ideal either, but we took a few before going to bed:

The belt I am wearing was a must, I would have felt huge otherwise. It is metallic, but very elastic like spring and I love the leaf motif of the front closure:

Honestly, in my opinion this dress is as good as it gets in terms of the choices an expecting mother has for an evening gown! It is very comfortable and shows enough while hiding enough at the same time! For example I got really tired of wearing tights during the evening and due to the length of the dress, I could just remove them and go on without anything digging into my belly. In addition, since the lower contrast parts are not joined at all, the slits in front and back are quite deep, so there is some sex appeal to the dress as well.

Another great tip I got from reading blogs was to cut a size smaller than usual due to the really extreme looseness of the pattern. So instead of my regular 12, I cut it in size 10 and I think it was absolutely worth it. I also omitted the side pockets, because… who would need them really?

While the dress was halfway finished without the lower pieces attached yet, I also discovered that it would make a great summer dress in short version.

And last but not least, we had a professional party photographer, thankfully, so we managed to get a pic together with my husband, too:

We have a collective holiday every year during the Christmas and New Year so I am totally enjoying it now, preparing some patterns and sewing but also meeting friends and spending time with my family.

Just a few days left until Christmas, may you all have beautiful holidays with your loved ones!