Outfit Along and Sewing Update

Hey… that’s not a sewing project!

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This wool is for the Outfit-Along which I’ve impulsively decided to take part in. If you’ve not heard of it, this event runs for the months of June and July, and to take part you have to knit one garment and sew one garment to make up a whole outfit. I’m going to be making the official OAL patterns – the Zinone knitted lace top and the Hollyburn skirt – but you don’t have to go with those as long as you make a whole outfit.

I haven’t knitted anything proper in about a year – the last serious knitting project I made was a baby blanket for my niece last June. I’ve been musing about picking up my knitting needles again as I don’t want to lose the skill, so when the OAL popped up on my blog feed the other day, the timing was perfect. Plus, I already mentioned that I have another Hollyburn skirt on my sewing plans. There was no way I couldn’t sign up!

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I’ve already made my gauge swatch, and it was bang on first time, which was nice. If you’re not a knitter, you might not know what a gauge swatch is. Basically, if two knitters knit the same square using the same wool and the same needles, the finished square may not come out the same size. This is because different knitters have different tension, meaning they may hold their wool more loosely or tightly as they sew – it’s really down to personal preference as to what feels good when you knit.

Therefore, before starting a new knitting project, you always have to make a gauge swatch – a test square – to calibrate your particular tension against what the knitting pattern expects. Otherwise you might end up with a top that’s 50% bigger than it’s supposed to be! If your sizing is a bit off then you change the size of your needles and try again. Lucky for me, my gauge swatch was just right. I’m going to chuck it in the washing machine and see if it can cope, because let’s face it, I’m too lazy for hand-washing.

Anyway – that’s enough about knitting – what about my sewing projects? Well –

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This week I finished a Bettine dress in this gorgeous teal filigree fabric from Chinatown. I absolutely adore it – except for the small fact that the hem of the skirt is far too narrow and I can barely put it on! Why didn’t I learn from my previous Bettine? Totally gutted. I’m not giving up on it though – I’m going to buy some more of the fabric to replace the skirt with a slightly differently shaped one. I’m also thinking of putting a side zip and waist band onto the old skirt so I can wear it on its own.

And this is what’s on my sewing table now:

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Hawthorn cutting chaos. I still haven’t found a way of cutting out fabric that I like. I used to pin the pattern pieces to the fabric and then cut around them, but I always ended up shaving a bit of the pattern piece off. So now I draw around the pieces and cut them after, but it’s extremely tedious and it’s hard to draw accurate lines with tailor’s chalk. What’s your favourite way to cut fabric?

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Chilli Bettine Dress

Yet another Tilly and the Buttons piece… I made this Bettine dress! With chilli print fabric! Because spicy food is my favourite food!

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Making this dress felt a lot like cheating. It has extremely simple construction as it is targeted at absolute beginners. I think I’m in the “advanced beginner” camp by now, so this was a doddle to put together! I made the version without pockets (not a fan of how they look) and omitted the cuff tab, which meant I was left with very few pattern pieces and very few seams. And no darts! It was a very quick make, to the point that it seems like I barely did anything to the fabric for it to turn into a dress.

 

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I did a 1.5″ full bust adjustment on the front bodice piece because I am a C/D cup and Tilly’s patterns are drafted for a B cup. When you execute an FBA, you increase the length of the bodice piece. Typically, there is a horizontal dart on the bodice which then gets redrawn to consume that extra length of fabric, but this dress has no darts! Tilly recommends ease-stitching the extra length in which I found very straight forward.

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The fabric came from Malin Textile at Chinatown and I paid S$11 (£5.50) per metre for it, down from S$13 (£6.50). It frayed like crazy while I worked with it, which was irritating. But it came out so cute! It’s a fun dress. I like the kimono sleeves. They’re different.

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It’s not at all easy to pull over my head though. I have to do a very awkward wiggle dance to put it on. It’s probably because I cut a size 1 for the hips whereas I’m a size 2 plus FBA in the bust, and the skirt is a tulip shape so it narrows towards the hem. As there are no closures, the narrow hem needs to go over my head and past the bust when I put it on, and it takes a fair bit of encouragement to coax it to where it’s supposed to be.

 

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A much more graceful wiggle than the one I had to do while getting dressed.

I’m not sure what I could do to fix that next time, though. My first thought was to try it with an A-line skirt, but I think the skirt does need to hug the hips in order to balance out the bagginess on top. Maybe I will just try it in a jersey, once I’ve learned how to sew with knits. And I’ve already ordered a couple of knit patterns so that won’t be too far away!